There is no secret that the time the SS United States Conservancy has left to save the SS United States is running out. Their funding from the generous donation of H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest runs out November 1, 2012. At times it has been odd how silent they have been when facing this looming deadline, but they have begun to step up their fundraising efforts and have revealed some of their plans for the ship.
A few months ago, the SS United States Redevelopment Project began asking for qualifications, a process that will eventually lead to the acceptance of bids and proposals. The deadline for this initial request was June 1. After reviewing proposals, the Redevelopment Project will then ask for full details as well as bids. The goal of the group according to Conservancy Executive Director Susan Gibbs is to select a partner or group of partners by the fall.
Plans call for a mix use option for the ship interior including hotel space, casino space, and retail/restaurant space. Estimates for the complete refitting of the ship have been estimated at $200 – $300 million, but there is a contingency plan. Another plan calls for the restoration of the ships exterior as well as one or two of the decks. The income from the first two decks could then be used to complete the rest of the ship over time. The cost for this plan, according to Gibbs, is $25 million. Either way, there do seem to be real plans for the SS United States moving forward and the Conservancy is stepping up its fund raising with events, a new documentary, and a recently released PSA featuring former NFL coach Dick Vermeil.
Preserving the history of the SS United States is important to me. Included in the plans for the redevelopmet of the SS United States is a 20,000 square feet museum to be on board. In addition, the plan calls for the restoration of key rooms within the ship to period decor. I have long supported the Conservancy and encourage anyone with an interest in Maritime history to do so as well.
Source: Hampton Roads Daily Press