It has been just over a year since the Showboat closed to the public due to safety reasons. Plans are starting to come together to replace the current vessel with a new boat, to be officially named the Lowell Showboat. During a meeting early this month, the Rebuild the Showboat Committee discussed the next steps in bringing a new boat to Lowell.
A conceptual design has been created by the Rebuild the Showboat Committee. Blueprints need to be approved by an engineer, then the search for a building will begin. The plan drafted by the committee could change slightly once a builder is found and limits and possibilities are discussed.
Currently, it is anticipated the new Showboat will be made of materials allowing for long-term care. The majority of the floor space will be enclosed, protected from the elements. Electricity, heat, and air conditioning will allow for year-round use. Ramps to board the boat and an elevator will allow wider access to the public. There is also potential for the temporary location for Santa visits to become a spot for public bathrooms and a bridal changing area should the Showboat be used as a venue for rental space.
Elements from the current boat will likely not be used in rebuilding as previously thought. Portions of the boat could be auctioned off to help with fundraising efforts. Some components will be donated to the Lowell Area Historical Museum to preserve the history of the current boat.
A $1 million grant from the State of Michigan, which was secured by Senator Dave Hildenbrand last year, in addition to $130,000 raised by Lowell Rotary and $10,000 through the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce fundraising. Approximately $1.1 million has been raised so far to fund the rebuilding of the Lowell Showboat. An anticipated $1.5 million is expected to be needed for building the new boat.
Fundraising ideas are being discussed in order to reach the price of the new boat. Additionally, the committee is looking into an endowment fund to be used for upkeep of the boat.
The hope of the committee is that the current boat will remain, but be moved upstream, while the new boat is assembled. Building of the new boat will take place off site but assembly will occur in its permanent location. The new boat will float but will remain stationary. It will take 6 to 9 months to be completed once construction begins. Plans and ideas are likely to slightly change as blueprints are completed and work with a builder begins, but the overall vision will remain the same.