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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The new convention center has brought in a good amount of visitors but one man says his idea will attract even more folks to the center and the rest of the Cape Fear. John Voet says his hotel ship is what Wilmington needs. He’s proposing docking the ship downtown along the river walk. But for now, Mayor Bill Saffo says the city will not be moving forward with Voet’s proposal.

“The biggest issue from my perspective is, whether it’s John or anybody else, is the infrastructure you would have to improve to bring any kind of vessel in. It’s money the city just doesn’t have right now,” Saffo said.

That’s not what John Voet wants to hear. He says a downtown hotel ship is right for the Port City. “Wilmington and our waterfront should be taken advantage of. This is what people come here for.”

The mayor agrees it may be a great addition to downtown but he says besides the need to fund new infrastructure for the ship, he has some personal reasons why he’s hesitant to move forward. “The ships that I saw, I felt that the rooms were too small,” Saffo said.

But Voet says space is no issue and Wilmington visitors and residents will be missing out if his ship can’t dock downtown.

“It brings in outside visitors, it brings in the new prospect of event planners to book our convention center. It brings in something for Wilmingtonians to enjoy on a daily basis for special events be it weddings, be it special dinners, be it going and having a drink on the waterfront. And it’s also good for economic development on downtown as well.”

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31 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Saffo says proposed hotel ship would require funds the city doesn’t have"

2015 years 9 months ago

Funny watching yesterday on the news, Saffo discussing “his” vision of Downtown and the waterfront… A park, quality development, bla bla…
This was within hours of expressing his opinion of the hotel-ship idea and the suggestion of it “blocking” our riverfront view with Voet’s ship.

Anyone happen to notice the mural of historic Wilmington behind the Mayor during his comments? Have a look again… he is standing in front of a mural-painting of our historic waterfront and in that painting is ship after ship docked on our waterfront in the Port City!!

Wilmington may have never been anything without ships and the group suggesting a ship as a hotel and attraction is right on in saying that ships are part of our history as a city.
We should welcome innovative ideas that could make our city someplace special and will obviously will bring new visitors ( and their spending $$)to downtown.

Small rooms? Come on…Anyone ever thats been on a ship realizes they are on a ship. They have stages, dining rooms, clubs, deck space, ambiance, charm and romance.
Don’t care for that? book a room at Motel 6 on Market St….

I think this opportunity is great, in so many new ways, for this City. Lets not lose it!

Guest Builder
2015 years 9 months ago

I wonder if anyone knows what’s in the bilge directly aft of the crash bulkhead.

I can’t say it’s still there, it was put there at the time this ship was nearing completion.

I think you would have been surprised.

I know I was.

There was a reason something was put there, a very good reason.

Why is that important?

When Common says “sink this idea”, he may not be that far off.

2015 years 9 months ago

You’re welcome for the idea Wilmington.

All issues solved. Every night at 11pm it goes to the bottom of the Cape Fear. It resurfaces at 6am. If you need to leave before 6am you get shot out in an empty torpedo tube.

2015 years 9 months ago

This is a little confusing to me…that the city would even “float” this idea (sorry). Having spent millions on a river-walk and preserving a view of the river, here is a proposal to block said view with a huge structure!

This is just another distraction to the real issue at hand…build a motel at the convention center, as proposed, and be done with it. Why is that so difficult?

2015 years 9 months ago

….put me down for one – black or dark green.

2015 years 9 months ago

down for one. Small price to pay to eliminate Medicaid.

2015 years 9 months ago

The government will be that much ahead.

Taxpayers are sick and tired of these subsidized pipe-dreams that never do seem to work out as planned.

2015 years 9 months ago

If I understand the story, Voet is proposing docking their investment, which easily must be worth $10’s of millions of dollars to the Cape Fear downtown.
He is not asking for land but river water and a dock to dock their ship downtown.
does not every hotel or any other business have a city road to access their business’s?
Use your head and some “common sense”…

2015 years 9 months ago

When you can’t round up private investment money, go to the government, hat in hand.

Trust me, if this was a sure thing people would be lining up to invest in it! The city wouldn’t have to cough up a cent beforehand.

SINK this idea, now!

2015 years 9 months ago

on another note, I’ve got a great investment opportunity which will help the local economy & allow Smiley to show she brought the bacon home from the Orient.

Step 1. GM donates all rights, equipment, and vehicle inventory, for Hummer, to a Non-profit which I will set up.

Step 2. We go to the state and Pender County for some grant money to fund the planning and design of a manufacturing plant in Pender County.

Step 3. We get the Chinese and Japanese to invest in the plant construction and outfitting of the manufacturing equipment.

Step 4. We hire some experienced plant managers and the underemployed of Pender, Duplin, and Lenoir County to begin construction of the US made but foriegn funded Hummer.

Step 5. We ship them through Wilmington to customers in Afghanistan, Iraq & other well heeled but hostile nations for personal security vehicles.

Step 6. We entice the foriegn investors to purchase over priced Brunswick and New Hnover county coastal real estate.

Step 7. Smiley announces the end of Medicaid.

Sonds good on paper anyway.

2015 years 9 months ago

goverment should welcome anyone coming to Wilmington that can bring jobs and tourist revenue to Wilmington. The revenues from the operation in taxes and dollars spent by people staying on or dining at this ship will more than pay back the city allowing dock space?
I know many friends I’ve talked to who think this is a great idea and would come stay aboard for the experience and downtown!

2015 years 9 months ago

if the city has to spend a “boatload” of money upfront, to make the riverwalk/bulkhead strong enough to dock a ship that size, then I agree with the mayor about not wanting the ship here. If there is no money for more important things in the budget, then this luxery item should not be given priority. Now if the guy that owns the boat wants to pay to strengthen the bulkhead, then I say why not try it out until the hotel can get built. But to spend taxpayer money so some rich guy can get richer is crazy…

2015 years 9 months ago

If you have been watching the 10’s of millions already spent by the city on the convention center, infrastructure, riverwalks where a result of countless studies and task forces!
The key to a successful center is having hotel rooms available to book which Wilmington does not have now except a dirt lot where the hotel should be. Now the city wants to spend another $25k to study what they have been studying for years!
This town has reserve funds for situations like this and they did just approve close to $10 million to make some street improvements…
As I see it, the hotel ship proposal is the first real outside commitment offered and the from what I can see, all they require is a dock, which the city alreay has in front of the center.
It makes no sense to not embrace something as new and inovative for our downtown!

2015 years 9 months ago

Smart move mr mayor,even if you don’t know all the reasons that this ship is a bad idea.

John A. Difloure
2015 years 9 months ago

Wilmington may well have no money after blowing millions on non-government concerns. The government has no business deciding whether a ships cabins are big enough. Probably not for big spenders like Saffo. Free, private enterprise should be the deciding factor not government.

Guest Apu
2015 years 9 months ago

The city has every right to evaluate the business plan and facilities, since this “free, private enterprise” is asking the city to pony up some serious dough so that they can bring the ship here.

I would agree with you if the ship’s owners were using their own funds to open their hotel, but they want the taxpayers to fund the facility where the ship would dock.

2015 years 9 months ago

Isn’t it true that boats operating as a business in water do not pay taxes? If this is the case, this would be why Mr. Saffo doesn’t want the hotel ship there–no money for him.

2015 years 9 months ago

I suppose it would be a novelty at first and probably draw some visitors. However, I think it would be short-lived, and not only would a ship of this size destroy the view across the river, but would be a complete albatross during the off season. Brick and mortar hotels are a better choice.

2015 years 9 months ago

“….destroy the view across the river….”

A view of WHAT? Weeds and broken down boats that have been sitting there for 30 years?? Other than the battleship, what exactly is there to see? Its a crying shame actually, at the very least they could plant some flowers over there. But I guess you enjoy the sight of trash and broken down piers.

2015 years 9 months ago

Destroy a view of what? A boat junkyard thats been there for years? Every time we have a ship come into downtown, people flock to come see it- including ME!
Never seen anyone fock to a hotel, have you? This is a great idea and something that can bring JOBS!

Guest 43
2015 years 9 months ago

Does anyone remember the Ark – a restaurant/boat that was a mainstay on the riverfront during the 1950s and 1960s? It was unique and drew tourists and local diners.

2015 years 9 months ago

I remember The Ark. The Henrietta is also a restaurant/boat on the riverfront, but MUCH more expensive. Also, I think The Ark was stationary (wasn’t it called The Fergus Ark?).

I remember it moved eventually next to the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge. They had the best friend chicken EVER!

2015 years 9 months ago

Can anyone tell me how it will get here? The river would need to be dredged, wouldn’t it? I’ve taken a cruise before, and two people couldn’t fit in the bathroom at the same time. Would these rooms be upfitted? If so, would there be enough of them? This sounds like a huge white elephant. Good call, Mr. Mayor.

2015 years 9 months ago

The river is plenty deep my friend as you may have noticed many ships on the Cape Fear.
As far as space, yea they are ships! Thats the uniqueness of the idea. Something new to market.I’m sure a Hamton Inn will bring outsiders flocking to Wilmington. The ship idea is suited for this town!
By the way, millions and millions of vacationers take cruises every year in one of the fastest growing segments in vacation travel choices.

2015 years 9 months ago

All good points from the previous posts…and furthermore, Mr. Voet has not mentioned if the floating hotel would bring GOOD PAYING JOBS to the Port City!

Forget it, otherwise!

LET’s talk JOBS with all of these folks who have their own livlihood and self-interests in mind first.

Let’s call Trump! He will build a beautiful hotel that will facilitate positions where people can earn a living wage for goodness sakes!

2015 years 9 months ago

I believe jobs, especially at a quality venue, would create obvious and many high paying positions for Wilmington… Marketing staff, restaurant staff, hotel staff, entertainment staff, and all the goods and services spread throught the community as a result of the what the ship would need.

2015 years 9 months ago

A ship that operates as a hotel will require much more than a dock. You have supply electricity to power everything the ship offers, that is a lot of juice! You have to supply water to the ships ammenites and to all of the rooms, that’s a lot of water. Then you have to have a method to get rid of the human waste, with all of the rooms, that’s a lot of waste! You have to have special boarding equipment to handle the magnitude of people coming on and off of the vessel, a simple catwalk won’t cut it. You have to have methods for the removal of garbage, with all of those people, that’s a lot of garbage. These are only the tip of the iceberg! Then to top it off, you have a ship that rests in it’s slip forever, never leaving that will require constant maintenance to keep it in even semi-decent shape. Blasting and painting is non-stop and even basic ship systems require constant maintenance. Drop it for a year and you have a rusted hulk of useless metal unfit for a scrapyard that is nothing more than another public eysore with millions invested in it. Bad idea, bad investment and one that will never appreciate. Pull the plug!

2015 years 9 months ago

Ah, hello…. a dock? Guess the city should have never built a convention center… “That alot of water, waste, electricity” that people would use. I guess we should Ask people coming to town to not drink or use a restroom! What will they use in a new hotel if and when it ever built?? I think its a good thing people might come to Wilmington or perhaps people with innovative ideas like the ship should avoid the “Port City”.
I suppose which has the RMS Queen Mary as a hotel/attraction, (the ship was built in the 30’s) and brought in the sixties should read your ignorent comment. That ship re-vitalized a boarded up downtown and has now become the center of that city.
I’m sure Voet and his partners are not going to neglect their investment. Use your head and a little imagination.

2015 years 9 months ago

1)A boat is nothing but a hole in the water to throw money into..

2)The happiest day in a man’s life is when he gets his boat.
The second most happiest day is when he gets rid of it..

Caveat: Don’t bring it and we won’t have to get rid of the piece of steel junk with eooms smaller than microtel…

2015 years 9 months ago

You been smokin’ the weed, or what?

There are no high paying jobs in Wilmington, especially in the service industry positions that you mention, ILM.

The floating pipe dream is a hard sell and it is falling on deaf ears, rightfully so!

2015 years 9 months ago

Oooo.. Sooo deep… that’s why the cruise line ships stop (wait.. the small cruise line ships) only at the state port because the channel past the bridge IS NOT DEEP ENOUGH..


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