Baytown-West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation | 1300 Rollingbrook Dr., Suite 610 | Baytown, TX 77521 | 281.420.2961 |

Battleship group states its case

August 8, 2020


Members of the Bring the Battleship to Baytown committee recently met with the ship’s Foundation at their request to discuss the contents of its request for proposal and to answer questions about how the city plans to take care of the historic warship if it ends up being chosen. 

Ever since the Foundation made the announcement that the battleship was going to be moved, repaired and then given a new home outside of where it’s been since 1948, cities have been scrambling to be the winner in the battleship sweepstakes. Baytown formed a committee, referred to as the B3, and planned to move it down the channel to Bayland Island, complete with a new museum, a gift shop, entranceway and dock. 

The meeting focused on fundraising, maintenance, dredging, admission numbers, and area support, said Mike Wilson, a committee member. 

“It was a specific request by the Foundation to interview us through the Bring the Battleship to Baytown Committee to continue the process of evaluation of the city they will choose,” Wilson said.  

In attendance were B.J. Simon, the Associate Executive Director at Baytown-West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation, former Baytown Mayor Calvin Mundinger, City Manager Rick Davis, committee head Jay Eschbach, Ray Garfield of Garfield Public/Private, and Stan Lloyd of Lloyd Engineering and Marisa Weber, Lloyd Engineering Environmental Services director.

“Myself, Calvin, Jay, and the committee, feel optimistic based on the meeting that we are in a favorable position to win the bid to get the ship,” Wilson said. “And we are looking forward to continuing discussion with the Foundation over the next few months.”

Simon went over the marketing and financial analyses of having the battleship in Baytown based on a study conducted by AECOM Economics. 

“They indicate the Bayland Island site can meet and exceed the requisite attendance thresholds and economic viability to sustain partnership with the (Foundation) and its efforts,” Simon said. 

Simon said AECOM estimates the attendance range to be from 200,000 to 300,000, with a likely midpoint attendance of 251,000. Simon added, at the midpoint, the resultant annual earned revenue is estimated to be $3.3 million. 

Simon said the fiscal and physical advantages include having the City of Baytown provide the land free of charge and “engage in the construction and ongoing maintenance of parking and pedestrian facilities.” He added the preliminary cost of these improvements is about $12 million. 

“None of these costs will be passed to (the Foundation),” Simon said. 

Baytown is prepared to construct and develop parking lots and a museum/gift shop and other shoreside facilities, according to Simon. 

“The city will participate as a party in the application of all available grants and fundraising opportunities that may emerge and be applied to the long-term maintenance and viability of the battleship as a tourist destination,” Simon said. 

Simon also mentioned the proposed 208-room, full-service major brand hotel being built on Bayland Island as well as the adjacent convention center. Davis said the groundbreaking for the project is now set for April 2021. The groundbreaking had been delayed from a fall date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ray Garfield said he believes that the relationship between the hotel/convention center and the other developments on the island would be good for both the city as well as the Foundation.  

Lloyd Engineering has provided conceptual drawings, opinions on construction costs, and a preliminary schedule for permitting, designing, and constructing marine-related improvements to receive and permanently moor the ship at Bayland Island, Simon said. 

Stan Lloyd, who heads Lloyd Engineering, said that in his professional opinion, the Bayland Island location will be the safest place for the battleship relative to hurricanes and other weather events. 

“Of all of the places I know where it could go, Bayland Island would be the safest for the ship,” Lloyd said. 

In Lloyd Engineering’s estimation, with the cost of dredging, placement, mooring, shoreline protection, platforms, gangways, onshore road access, geo-technical investigation, permitting, engineering, and program and construction management, would come to $32.5 million. 

To market the battleship, the city’s Tourism Division of the Department of Public Affairs will employ city resources to market the ship as a destination. This includes a robust social media marketing program and Baytown’s own Channel 16. 

Simon said the EDF would provide economic development support for marketing, development and funding efforts.

“Most notably, the Bayland site is located in a census tract with qualifies for new market tax credits and historical tax credits, funding mechanisms which could prove substantially beneficial,” Simon said. “The EDF will provide guidance related to these and other potential incentives and funding sources, working in concert with the Foundation, City of Baytown and other units of government.”

Wilson said now the B3 will wait to hear back from the Foundation.

“We will also schedule, at their convenience, a visit to Bayland Island for them to walk around and view where the ship will be berthing,” he said. 

The Foundation has stated on its website the Texas Parks and Wildlife said the Legislative Budget Board approved the restoration plan for the ship. As of Aug. 1, the operations of the Battleship Texas would be under the Foundation’s direction. 

The site also stated Valkor, a project management and engineering team, and Resolve Marine are mobilizing to tow prep for the ship. It will take about 90 days for major preparations to be made, and another few weeks before towing final tow prep will happen. No exact tow date was provided. 

By Matt Hollis, Baytown Sun