Patriots Point moving forward with payback plans

    MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV)--Facing a $9.2 million dollar debt, officials at Patriots Point are looking to new revenue streams to help right a once sinking ship.

    The Patriots Point Development Authority met Wednesday. One of the proposed ideas: a 96-room luxury hotel and restaurant to be located next to the current Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina.

    "It's going to be exciting," Development Authority Chairman Ray Chandler said. "It's going to integrate access to the marina, facilitate additional parking and add a great restaurant, and outside venue and some first class rooms."

    Chandler and Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette are working around the clock to garner interest in new business opportunities to help keep the tourist destination afloat.

    Earlier this year, officials with Patriots Point asked for an extension from the state budget and control board. Under the terms of the deal, the naval museum paid $500,000.

    Patriots Point borrowed the money in 2009 in order to pay for repairs to the U.S. S. Laffey, which began to deteriorate while sitting in wet-dock at Patriots Point.

    Leaders were hoping to receive $20 million in federal funding, but that never materialized. The lack of funds left Chandler and Burdette with a lofty goal of gaining new revenue by developing some of Mount Pleasant's most sought after real estate - and hosting more interactive events for locals and tourists.

    "We've had an event everyday since mid-July. We've had 93 events and that's reflecting in our revenue right now, and our cash balance is growing, which is going to allow us to address the Laffey issue."

    But with the economy and two aging ships both men realize there is a long road ahead.

    "There are two parts to this budget process. Number one is recognizing what our overhead is, in a very tight economy and making those adjustments; the second is creating events and activities that we can have the public coming in and enjoying the Yorktown and Patriots Point."

    As for the master plan, to bring Patriots Point back in the black, Chandler said he expects Patriots Point to "turn around by January or February".

    "We have a great staff, great executive, great board. None of us have our head in the sand, we know where we are going, we know how to get there and Patriots Point is going to be a national destination."

    Developers will still need to present a final design for the hotel and get those plans approved by the town of Mount Pleasant before construction can begin.

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