The chairman of the Patriots Point Development Authority, the body that overseas the state-owned maritime museum on Charleston Harbor, announced Friday that he would leave the role next month.
Ray Chandler has led the agency's board since then-Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him in 2011. He'll officially resign on Dec. 31 after serving as chairman for about 7½ years.
Over that time, Chandler said Friday, the museum has changed to operate more like a business.
"My goal when I got here was to get us to be fiscally sustainable," he said.
In addition to the three vessels that make up the museum — the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the destroyer Laffey and the submarine Clamagore — the authority oversees about 350 acres at Mount Pleasant's waterfront.
Right now, the board is working with Charleston developer Michael Bennett, who plans to fill a large portion of that property with hotels, offices, apartments and retail areas under a long-term lease with the state.
The project, called Patriots Annex, is described as critical to Patriots Point's financial future. Each building has a set percentage of revenue that would go to the maritime museum. The three hotels planned for the first 30 acres of development, for example, are expected to generate about $1.3 million a year for the military attraction.
Two new museums may also be on the horizon for the development authority: Patriots Point hopes to be the permanent home for the historic H.L. Hunley submarine, and it's in talks with a group working to build a National Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Mount Pleasant.
The latter museum group, which is based locally, formed after another medal museum project left Patriots Point late last year. In his years as chair, Chandler saw the formation and departure of that first organization, which recently announced plans to build a Medal of Honor museum in Arlington, Texas.
The "biggest challenge" facing the museum board now, Chandler said, is being able to successfully integrate all of those projects, all while ensuring that the museum and its ships are properly maintained.
Chandler's departure will be the second leadership change at Patriots Point in recent months. Executive director Mac Burdette retired in late June after nine years at the helm.
Larry Murray, an Army veteran and a former director at the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, took the reins as director over the summer.
Chandler congratulated Murray on Friday for a "seamless" transition, and said he felt the museum and the board were in "a good place right now."
He announced his resignation to the board at its monthly meeting Friday, but had given the Governor's Office advance notice that he was leaving, he said. The board's vice chairman, Wayne Adams, will likely serve as interim chair until a replacement is appointed.
Chandler continues to practice law at Chandler & Jennings, which has offices in North Charleston and Manning.
The museum board also recognized the retirement of longtime museum employee David Clark on Friday. Clark is the director of exhibits at Patriots Point, but has served in other roles over his more than four decades with the museum.