The nearly eight-year campaign to bring the USS Charles F. Adams Downtown to become a naval museum and tourist attraction has moved a step closer to fruition.
The U.S. Navy has offered to the nonprofit Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association the possibility of scheduling dry dock space at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia in May or June to prepare the 1960s-era guided missile destroyer to be towed to Jacksonville.
“We’re as close as we’ve ever been,” said Joe Snowberger, spokesman for the association, on Monday.
He said the dry dock work will seal the hull and restore the ship’s exterior paint and will take three to four weeks.
Another week will be needed to tow the vessel and put it in place along Pier No. 1 at the Shipyards property.
That means the Adams could be docked Downtown as early as September.
Only two variables remain in play for the project: for the city to select the developer for the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park properties and for the association to complete raising the rest of about $3 million that will be needed to open the museum.
Snowberger said the nonprofit has raised enough money to cover the dry dock work and tow the vessel to its new home.
That’s about $1.6 million, but the organization is reluctant to authorize the work and towing until it has raised all the money for the museum.
Snowberger said the association is close to reaching agreement with a sponsor to complete the funding. He said there could be an announcement in two weeks.
On the city’s side, the Downtown Investment Authority is scheduled by April 18 to select one of three proposals submitted this month for redevelopment of the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park properties, 70 acres along the Downtown Northbank.
Proposals were received from two Texas-based developers — Presidium Group and Weiss Holdings — and from Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Iguana Investments LLC Florida.
Khan’s group submitted the proposal that was selected nearly two years ago to redevelop only the Shipyards property.
Development agreement negotiations with Iguana were suspended when the city decided in December to issue the new request that includes the adjacent Metropolitan Park property east of the Shipyards site.
Snowberger said the association won’t be able to negotiate with the developer until the city selects the best proposal, but he’s confident there will be a place for the ship and museum.
After preliminary contact with all three developers, “We’ve had no indication that the ship won’t be part of the plan no matter which proposal is selected,” he said.