In 2015 a councilwoman with the City of Charleston brought forward a project she had been championing for the past 13 years. The Charleston Aquatic Center was something that was near and dear to her heart as a swimmer, a mother and as an elected official who understood the value a facility like this would bring to her constituents. We joined the project after this 2015 attempt failed to garner the support of the town council. When we joined the project many considered it to be a "dead" project.
Visionary Beginnings - A New Hope
Coming from a competitive swimming background and an understanding of the economics of travel sports we immediately saw the potential for this facility and the benefit it would bring to the region. Our team immediately came along side Kathleen Wilson as her team and presented her with the option to approach this project as a public private partnership (P3).
Having developed many facilities from a simple idea and napkin sketch we knew how to go through the process of developing a 501c3, the road map toward success and funding and we had the business plan to develop a proforma that would turn this facility from a drain on the fiscal funds of the city government into a self-sustaining economic engine.
New Program - Funding the Vision
The most important adjustment to the program was the focus on developing the economic impact that was originally estimated at $5 million annually with a $1.3 million annual subsidy. Our team was able by increasing the budget by less than 5% to increase the economic impact to $60 million annually and provide for the facility to make over $250,000 per year that they could put into program or facility improvements.
Additionally the eventual program was designed to provide the community sports tourism, support local sports, and health-focused facility in an area of the City that is asking for just such a neighbor. It was a Wellness Complex, helping to improve the lives of those who walk through the doors, but it’s more than just a facility with a few pools. It will provide the region with a training facility for first responders, the military, and search and rescue. It will support the regional medical centers, rehabilitation, and physical therapy facilities. It would hold both local and national level swimming competitions as well as swimming lessons that promote saving and improving the quality of life of children in an area that has an abundance of water.
Developing Wide Range of Support
Following our presentation of the city council was unanimous in their support after of the facility and at a later meeting funded the project with an initial $2 million dedication and a $30-35 million bond financing committed based on the economic impact of this to this project to the hospitality and accommodations tax and the impact it had to jump start the TIF zone.
The client continues to work with our project managers to develop corporate sponsors, state support and private donors to build out the facility.