DESTINATION PLANS UPDATE

Destination Station plans include interactive exhibits

Chamber steps up fundraising effort to meet 2103 deadline

By Ron MacArthur | May 31, 2012
Cape Gazette, May 31, 2012
Source: EC2C Destination Station conceptual plans call for an interactive facility with four exhibit areas serving as a gateway to the beach area.

Rehoboth Beach —  

It's just a valuable piece of real estate right now, but if the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce's vision comes to fruition, a parcel just outside Rehoboth town limits will literally become a destination.

At its May 17 meeting, the chamber announced conceptual plans for what Destination Station Center might look like. Planned for a spot in the current park and ride near Route 1 at the entrance to Rehoboth Beach, the project has been 11 years in the making, said chamber President/CEO Carol Everhart.

It's only been over the past three years that the project has really picked up steam with the hiring of a construction manager, architect, engineer and planning consultant. Everhart said $396,000 has been raised so far, and an aggressive capital campaign is under way, which includes $1 million in grant requests. Donations have been received from more than 600 businesses and individuals.

Everhart said ground would not be broken for the project until 80 percent of construction costs are committed by sponsorships.

Plans for Destination Station include a 4-D cinema and three major exhibit areas with interactive components. In 2011, PKF Consulting USA of Philadelphia estimated Destination Station could attract as many as 200,000 visitors annually. Construction and technology costs are estimated at $20 million, Everhart said.

“We have been able to help bring more focus to the vision to create an exciting venue for visitors and locals,” said Eric Carlson of consultant E2C2 of Washington, D.C. “It will be a connection to the beach environment and lots of fun, but not passive experiences. It's about education, but fun will be the benchmark we are measured against.”

Carlson said the conceptual plan includes three areas: A Day at the Beach with interactive environmental activities, Physics is Fun and Creative Commons.

“Hands-on is key to what we are doing,” said Mike Panich of E2C2. Activities would challenge children and adults. Most activities would be geared toward middle-school-age students, but there would be interactive activities for all ages.

A Day at the Beach activities will be about weather, beach processes, the marine environment and the Gulf Stream. One of the highlights will be a weather IQ test for children and adults.

Physics is Fun will include a motor sports simulator and areas to learn the physics of surfing, skateboarding, sailing, cycling and kayaking.

In Creative Commons, visitors will be able to make and fly an airplane, build a Lego race car and learn about careers and inventors.

Panich said the proposed building would be too small to house a large IMAX theater, but there would be room for a smaller, more intimate 4-D theater to provide stimulating, multisensory experiences.

The facility would also stay true to its original concept and offer activities and education about energy choices, Carlson said.

Kay Wheatley, chair of the chamber's Destination Station committee, said as the fundraising effort continues, more grants and donations from corporations will be sought.

Destination Station would also include a welcome center and transportation hub.

Everhart said interior plans can be viewed at a new website, destinationstationcenter.com.