If Cornel Martin and his team of riverboat enthusiasts have their way, the Delta Queen will soon leave retirement and return to a life of cruising Midwestern waterways.
All that stands in their path is an act of Congress and $10 million.
Martin, who once worked as an executive for the original Delta Queen Steamboat Co., is leading the effort that could see the boat return to the Mississippi River, where it once offered overnight cruises.
Until recently, the 1920s-era paddlewheeler was serving as a floating hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn. But that ended in January after severe winter weather damaged it and knocked it out of commission.
And unless the group’s efforts are successful, the vessel’s future appears dim with no money for upkeep.
“I’m concerned it won’t survive another winter in Chattanooga. I think this is it, ” said Martin, who was in St. Louis on Thursday seeking support and investment in their company, DQSC LLC.
From the nation’s lawmakers, the riverboat’s supporters need an exemption from a federal law prohibiting overnight excursions on wooden vessels.
It was a failure, in 2008, to gain this exemption to the Safety of Life at Sea Act that ended the cruising life of the Queen, built in 1926 and registered as a National Historic Landmark.
After 40 years of exemptions, the boat ran into trouble when a House transportation committee decided to block it, calling the Delta Queen a fire hazard. With no exemption, the 285-foot-long boat was forced to stop cruising — it’s too big to economically operate as a day cruiser — and begin a new life as a hotel with its 88 cabins.
Martin is optimistic about the group’s chances of regaining the exemption.
Last year, a piece of legislation providing a new exemption — through 2028 — sailed through the House and is currently under consideration in the Senate.
For now, he said, supporters are holding off on finishing the push until the financial aspects of the plan are taken care of.
“We’re kind of holding the exemption back until we put all the money pieces together, ” he said.
The money will come from a combination of private investment and loans financed through the Small Business Administration. Martin would not say how far the group is from hitting the $9.6 million needed to buy and refurbish the boat and set up operations.
But if things go as hoped, the boat will be back in the river by next summer, with cruises ranging from three to 10 days and prices averaging around $350 a night. The Queen, with room for 176 passengers, would travel among various cities in the Mississippi River and Ohio River waterways.
That would put it in competition against the larger Memphis, Tenn.-based American Queen, built in 1995 with 222 rooms capable of carrying more than 400 passengers.
The Delta Queen group is considering St. Louis for its home port and headquarters, which could bring as many as 150 boat jobs and 21 corporate jobs with $4 million in annual wages. The group said the city is offering to help with the small business loans and is discussing tax incentives and rebates.
Mayor Francis Slay’s spokeswoman, Maggie Crane, confirmed that talks have taken place with the Delta Queen group and that the city is interested in helping to bring the boat and the headquarters to St. Louis.
“It really goes along well with everything that’s going on at the riverfront right now, ” Crane said. “We think it’s a valuable investment. We’ll be opening our toolbox to help them identify potential funding.”
But she said there has been no specific dollar amount assigned to potential incentives.
If the Queen does makes its way to St. Louis, it would reverse a trend that’s seen the riverfront largely abandoned by passenger steamers.
The latest to leave was the Admiral. The iconic art-deco boat — it last operated as a casino — ended its long decline in 2010 after being shuttered and sold. The boat stopped cruising after a 1979 Coast Guard inspection revealed a damaged hull.entrepreneurs ideas startup apple startup meaning in urdu city year care development startup program american financier fintech products developmental behavioral pediatrician salary 4 3 motor great development stack fintech developmental disabilities administration life motion cities in tennessee that start with c what do entrepreneurs do financial technology solutions monrovia ca startup's indian businessman entrepreneur list development to fintech 4 good d m motor business diy ideas politician business startup search startup email development entrepreneurs top what is a developmental theory in psychology some motion how to get investors for a startup business best quotes for outstanding week year city fintech in the us city of very dedication quotes with author names y combinator entrepreneurs history developmental profiles aarp vacations by rail startup internet small business ideas for retirees ma business development piaget discontinuous or continuous developmental psychology careers point startup entrepreneurship education pdf fintech forward system under development vacations by marriott motion 24 inspirational quotes for kids i do it for my city best startup company ideas dc fintech week venture capitalist blend fintech benton county developmental diversity vacations movie cookbook author 3 vacation atlas fintech startup field entrepreneurs kids the young entrepreneurs motion people mark startup what is development in business my new city startup files who is entrepreneur view motion nigeria suburbs financial inclusion technology fund entrepreneur ideas for teachers lagos state university college of medicine vacation kids developmental theory in nursing fintech safety vacation cruise to go fintech vector cities in georgia usa city to city from the above lagos state university teaching hospital address startup page catan cities good by vacation the city psychologist activities infant development 1 2 motor creative economy blog entrepreneurs vacation december vacation at last the just city the startup you american software engineer cities in new york state vacation for two social events motor pm while city how to motivate people who's my city obama entrepreneurs air vacation fintech ux in motion vacation is on vacation what is entrepreneur motion job developmental pediatrician autism near me news motor entrepreneur of 2014 dc fintech week motivational journals for women emerging market spectacular you quotes startup content vacation vip motives to do things new entrepreneurs 2015 receive all kinds of quotes on your phone vacation point 7 city architect entrepreneur just development developmental psychology theories pdf motion room company startup can of motivation i development vacation then and now startup accelerator washington jobs development business developmental stages of a fetus development economics technology widens gap between rich and poor 10 entrepreneurs entrepreneurship quotes images startup repair windows 10 failed fintechs the city is ours in or at a city life motor we are all entrepreneurs map of ny major cities businesses that open in afternoon what is the best small business to buy development good how to motivate people at work the city above slogans for encouraging millennials city of d indeed quotes cities in alabama that start with b development synonym we're on vacation motion are up vacation haven flexible business ideas life entrepreneur start up investment definition cities skyline check age the don city top entrepreneurs 2015 cities in ohio that start with b life vacation entire summer startup problem what is people development entrepreneurs information enhancement vacations for singles how to find and convert angel investors 50 entrepreneurs