Historic Ship To Permanently Dock In Alexandria, Expected To Boost Waterfront Businesses


Historic Ship To Permanently Dock In Alexandria, Expected To Boost Waterfront Businesses

Courtesy: Tall Ship Providence Foundation The replica of the Providence that will dock on the Alexandria waterfront

September 10, 2018  |  Jon Banister, Washington D.C.  Biz Now

Alexandria has been pushing to boost activity along its waterfront to support Old Town’s businesses, and a new attraction it will unveil next year is expected to draw thousands of visitors.

A replica of the Providence, one of the first American ships in the Revolutionary War, will permanently dock next to Alexandria’s new waterfront park beginning in June.  The nonprofit group responsible for bringing the ship to Alexandria, the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, estimates it will draw 75,000 visitors annually to the variety of events and programming it will host. Those visitors should have a significant impact on hotels and restaurants along Old Town’s waterfront, said Tall Ship Providence Foundation Chairman Scott Shaw, who is also the head of Alexandria Restaurant Partners.  “It creates a focal point along with the city’s new park on the waterfront,” said Shaw, whose group owns nine Alexandria restaurants. “The combination of those two developments is going to create reasons for people to come down here and things for people to do when they come down here.”  The ship will offer tours with guides in Revolutionary War-era clothing discussing the ship’s history, and it will partner with Alexandria middle schools for educational programming. The original Providence, under the command of the father of the U.S. Navy, John Paul Jones, was the first American ship to fire on a British warship. The historically accurate replica, built in 1975, has appeared in movies including “Master and Commander” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”  The historical programming is modeled after Boston’s popular Boston Tea Party ship experience with one major difference: the Providence can still sail.

On Friday nights, the ship will have craft beer cruises sponsored by Alexandria-based Port City Brewing. Family cruises on Saturday and Sunday will take groups down the Potomac to see Mount Vernon. Groups can also reserve the ship for private gatherings such as weddings and charity events.  The project to acquire, restore and dock the ship is expected to cost about $3.3M, Shaw said, and several local businesses are partnering to support the effort. The city is pitching in another $350K to build the dock.

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