Patriots Point chooses developer for $300M project

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published August 18, 2014

Charleston-based real estate company Bennett Hospitality plans to bring hotels, office space, restaurants and retail to waterfront property at Patriots Point if a $300 million development deal goes through.

The board of Patriots Point Development Authority, which owns the land, selected Bennett Hospitality on Friday to negotiate a 99-year lease of about 50 acres of property at Patriots Point that currently includes parking lots and exhibits. The authority board and Bennett Hospitality must still negotiate the terms of the lease and receive approval from the state’s Budget and Control Board before work can begin.

Patriots Point Development Authority owns approximately 360 acres of land that is surrounded by Charleston Harbor and its tributaries. (Photo/Provided/Patriots Point)
Patriots Point Development Authority owns approximately 360 acres of land that is surrounded by Charleston Harbor and its tributaries. (Photo/Provided/Patriots Point)
Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, said he expects the negotiation to take about 30 days and the Budget and Control Board to discuss it during its October meeting.

“We’re optimistic we can negotiate a lease with Bennett Hospitality,” Burdette said. He cited the company’s experience, track record and financial stability as reasons the board chose it.

“When they develop something, they keep it. They don’t flip it; they stay with it,” Burdette said. “They run their own restaurants. They run their own hotels. They become partners in what they do. I think that resonated with the board.”

Bennett Hospitality operates The Cottages on Charleston Harbor, which is located on Patriots Point.

The lease document will likely include the percentage of revenue that Bennett Hospitality will pay Patriots Point for use of the land, allocation of square footage for different uses and how the company plans to deal with parking, according to Burdette. After the lease is signed, more detailed plans will be released.

The entire development project is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete.

Patriots Point’s long-term revenue stream from the land lease would provide “perpetual care to the museum, ships and pier,” according to the motion that was approved by the board. The restoration of the aircraft carrier Yorktown alone could cost $80 million.

“If this works out like we hope it will, they (the board members) will have left a huge legacy so that these ships can remain here literally for generations,” Burdette said. “This is a major step. I think that Mr. Bennett and his crew are the right ones to do it.”

The authority owns approximately 360 acres of land in Mount Pleasant that is surrounded by Charleston Harbor and its tributaries.

Last year, the authority approved a $1-per-year lease to the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation for the construction of a $100 million museum on seven acres of land directly in front of the Cold War Memorial. The College of Charleston leases approximately 35 acres of land for a sports complex, and about 200 acres is leased for Patriots Point Links golf course.

Rent for the 50-acre parcel under consideration will be determined by market value, increases in the consumer price index and length of the lease, according to the authority’s request for proposals and qualifications that was published in May.

“I look forward to Patriots Point stepping into its full role: being the keeper of historical artifacts of the second World War and now developing the property so that they can be sustained for future generations,” authority board chairman Ray Chandler said. “He (founder and owner Michael Bennett) seems totally devoted to the Charleston area and to Patriots Point. He brings both 35 years of professional experience and the care and concern of the Charlestonian to a very special and unique place. We think the combination of those two together with his integrity makes this a perfect fit for both of us.”

Reach staff writer Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker on Twitter.

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