It’s been a roller-coaster ride for those of us following the saga of the SS United States over the years.
While it looked like the famed ocean liner with the fastest timed eastbound trans-Atlantic voyage was in dire straights, officials from the SS United States Conservancy said they have a “preliminary” agreement for the redevelopment of the ship that sits in the Delaware River at Snyder Ave.
The news went out in an email to supporters of the SS United States Conservancy. Susan Gibbs, Executive Director of the SS United States Conservancy and grand daughter 0f William Francis Gibbs, architect and engineer of the historic ship, said in a release:
Negotiations have been underway for some time, and planning will continue with a variety of stakeholders. While further due diligence is conducted, the Conservancy will receive financial support to cover the vessel’s core carrying costs for at least an additional three months.
Little is known about plans for redevelopment. Earlier reports had the ship moving up to Brooklyn to become a hotel and tourist attraction. Gibbs said, “The project remains at an early and delicate phase, but we wanted to update our supporters about this encouraging development.”
While it may disappointing to not have any details about the plans as of yet, remember that this is one of the more complicated redevelopment plans around. The New York Times reported that it could cost anywhere between $170-$300 million to make the project in Brooklyn happen. Does that seem steep? Consider the physical specimen that is the SS United States. Steve Ujifusa, author and member of the Advisory Council of the SS United States Conservancy, put it this way in an article for PlanPhilly back in 2012:
Take the Chrysler Building, install engines powerful enough to drive an aircraft carrier, and outfit the inside with furnishings fit for John F. Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco. Then turn the skyscraper on its side, and push it through the rough waters of the North Atlantic at over forty miles per hour. This was the phenomenal American achievement of Philadelphia native William Francis Gibbs, docked on our city’s Delaware waterfront since 1996. Sixty years after the SS United States’ triumphant maiden voyage, the greatest ship ever built now sits as a faded, rusting shell of her former self in the city of her designer’s birth.
You can read the full release here.