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Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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Port Awards Cruise Terminal Design to CH2M Hill & Local Partners

Design Work to Begin Immediately for Terminal at New Location - Relocated Terminal to Open Much of Union Pier for Public, Other Uses

Charleston, SC – Today, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) Board awarded the design work for the new Union Pier passenger terminal to a team led by national firm CH2M Hill, along with local partners LS3P Associates, Collins Engineers, DesignWorks and Thomas & Hutton.

The $2.4-million design project for the new terminal will begin this month. Actual renovation work will also begin this year, with a targeted opening date by the third quarter of 2012.

“We were fortunate to have a number of qualified and accomplished firms submit for the Union Pier passenger terminal project,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCSPA. “The CH2M Hill team brings extensive experience in converting marine cargo structures into modern cruise facilities, along with a thorough understanding and appreciation of the need to fit contextually with Charleston's special character.”

The design team will be converting and renovating an existing structure into the new passenger terminal. That building is located at the northern end of the SCSPA's Union Pier property. It will replace the present passenger terminal, built almost 40 years ago much farther south on the property.

Relocating the cruise terminal northward is the essential catalyst to realizing the Union Pier Concept Plan - a plan that includes moving all cargo operations off of Union Pier, reducing cargo-related traffic, eliminating trains, and opening up more than 35 acres to public and private uses, including unparalleled public access to Charleston's waterfront. The SCSPA recently relocated the BMW and other rolling stock business from Union Pier to an improved Columbus Street Terminal.

“Today is a major milestone toward the realization of the Union Pier Concept Plan,” said City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. “This plan, which was driven by community input, presents an extraordinary opportunity to continue enhancing our economy with the cruise business, while also relocating cargo operations from Union Pier. I am delighted that we are moving forward with a great team, a great plan, a great boost to our economy, and a great future for Union Pier and this city.”

Charleston City Council approved a resolution supporting the relocation of the cruise operation and the Union Pier Concept Plan last September. Created with extensive public involvement, the Union Pier Concept Plan can be seen at

Newsome also emphasized the economic benefits of the cruise business. “It's a vital economic driver for the maritime industry,” he said. “And, of course, other businesses benefit as the cruise ships and crew buy products and services here. In addition, passengers spend money in shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions.”

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. According to the Center for Business Research, the construction of the new terminal alone will deliver an estimated economic boost of $43 million and create more than 300 jobs.

The passenger terminal design assignment covers all architectural and engineering plans, contract documents, costs and schedules necessary to convert the existing building into a cruise passenger terminal. The assignment's scope includes the terminal building, parking, security, berth, baggage handling and other amenities necessary to efficiently handle one cruise vessel at a time.

Funds are in hand to renovate the building and deliver the new terminal -- the SCSPA issued $170 million in bonds to fund major projects, including the cruise facility, in December.

The Port of Charleston expects to welcome 90 cruise ships in 2011.

The public will continue to have ongoing opportunities to submit feedback and comments throughout the design process. Comments and questions also can be submitted through

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