– By Mike Konzen, principal and chair
Asheville, North Carolina is one of my favorite places on earth. So I was thrilled to be asked to recommend improvements to their Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF). This fund has provided $15 million for the development of “bricks and mortar” products throughout Buncombe County since 2001.
Individual projects receive TPDF support based on demonstration of “economic value” and room night generation. But our analysis led us to recognize that the greatest economic impact occurs when these tourism products work together. Their effect can be truly synergistic.
This is not unique to Asheville. Wonderful examples of this synergy effect are evident in communities throughout the United States. In fact, our research suggests that cultural attractions almost always achieve their greatest potential as economic generators in concert with other tourism products.
In downtown Atlanta, for instance, our Georgia Aquarium project is synergizing with the World of Coke, and The Children’s Museum of Atlanta, as well as the soon-to-be-completed National Center for Civil and Human Rights and College Football Hall of Fame. All of these products are within a stone’s throw of each other, effectively creating a cultural tourism hub around Centennial Olympic Park. The synergistic effect of these projects is transformational, stimulating a myriad of new restaurants, hotels, shopping, and housing.
These groupings of cultural attractions can be powerful tourism demand generators, creating significant economic impact.
It’s no wonder that several cities are creating powerful cultural tourism hubs. I believe that this represents a substantial trend. Some key traits of such developments include:
- 1. Multiple cultural attractions, operating synergistically with each other.
- Relative proximity between the cultural attractions, usually within walking distance.
- A unifying public space, character, or theme.
- Integration of infrastructure elements, such as mass transit and parking.
- Complimentary commercial developments such as hotels and restaurants.
The following are three cultural tourism hub projects that are currently in the works:
Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
PGAV developed a master plan for this stunning site located on Charleston Harbor. With spectacular views of historic Charleston, Fort Sumter, and other landmarks, Patriots Point has displayed three historic naval ships including the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown since the 1970s. On the land adjacent to these ships, multiple cultural attractions are planned. The first of these is a National Medal of Honor Museum, dedicated to the values and history of America’s highest military honor.
Scioto Peninsula, Columbus, Ohio
Integrated into downtown Columbus on the banks of the Scioto River, the Peninsula will include the existing COSI science museum, as well as a planned Ohio Veterans Museum and Downtown attraction operated by the Columbus Zoo. This development will be organized around a significant public space, and include a substantial commercial development that is projected to include 1,200 residential units above first floor retail. The Scioto River itself will be returned to a more natural state, creating several acres of public green space which complements the “Scioto Mile” development. We are actively involved in planning related to this development.
Miami Museum Park
Miami, Florida’s 40 acre Bicentennial Park has been transformed into a cultural hub with the development of two major museums located on Biscayne Bay. The Perez Art Museum $220 million opened in 2013, with a striking architectural design that includes 70 hydroponic gardens hanging from every side. The $275 million MiaSci is a new 250,000 square feet three story science museum. It includes interesting aquarium elements, a 3D planetarium, and will open in 2015 3D planetarium theater.