Delta Queen to remain in Chattanooga over summer

The historic Delta Queen riverboat could be headed to Florida at the end of the summer.

The Delta Queen docked at Mud Island, Memphis, Tennessee in May 2003 (Jeremy Atherton, 2003.)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- The historic Delta Queen riverboat could be headed to Florida at the end of the summer.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports hotelier Wayne Heller wants to purchase the steamboat and turn it into a floating hotel in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. However, he is waiting to see if the City Council there will approve a land lease.

New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer says a decision won't be made until August at the earliest.

Heller would also have to get approval from several other agencies including the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers before moving the 85-year-old vessel.

Several possible buyers have stopped short of purchasing the boat and operator Leah Ann Ingram said she still hopes it can find a permanent home in Chattanooga.

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