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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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Port Issues RFP for New Cruise Terminal Design

Charleston, SC - The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) today issued a request for proposals for the design of a new cruise ship terminal on the northern end of the SCSPA’s Union Pier property. The new cruise terminal is scheduled for completion in 2012 and would replace the existing passenger terminal.

“With the proceeds of revenue bonds issued earlier this month, we have the funding to meet our urgent need to provide better facilities for our cruise ship customers,” said SCSPA President and CEO Jim Newsome.

“The next step is to select a design firm,” Newsome said. “Building a new terminal at the northern end of Union Pier will result in relocating 200 cargo ships a year, along with considerable rail and truck traffic, off that property. This opens the possibility of making much of this 63-acre waterfront property available for public and other uses.”

Newsome acknowledged the contribution of both individuals and organizations to the SCSPA’s planning process for Union Pier. “The plan we are pursuing is a direct result of the constructive input we have received from throughout the community.”

The first step in the Union Pier Concept Plan (, which was endorsed by Charleston City Council in September, is to develop the new cruise terminal on the north end of Union Pier Terminal in an existing warehouse.

To perform the design work, the SCSPA has solicited proposals from three nationally recognized firms who have successfully designed and provided construction oversight of a modern cruise passenger terminal by retrofitting and refurbishing existing marine cargo facilities in the United States.  

The lead firm must demonstrate past successful design experience in the City of Charleston, which can be met by teaming up with a local firm.

The design proposals are due January 26, with the firm selected and beginning work in March 2011. After selection and design, construction could begin within a year, with a targeted opening date by the third quarter of 2012.

The selected firm will develop all the architectural and engineering plans, contract documents, costs and schedules necessary to convert the existing building into a cruise passenger terminal. The project will include the terminal building, parking, security, berth, baggage handling and other amenities necessary to efficiently handle one cruise vessel at a time with capacity of up to 3,450 passengers.

Charleston hosts a number of port-of-call visits and is the home port for the Carnival Fantasy, which began year-round cruises from the port in May and will make 68 embarkations in 2011.

The cruise business in the Charleston area supported more than 400 jobs and $37 million in total economic output in 2010, including $16 million in wages and $3.5 million in tax revenues.