After a decade, the South Carolina State Ports Authority says it has finally reached an agreement to sell its old port terminal in the town of Port Royal. But what the developer plans to do with the property is still under wraps until the deal is finalized.
The Ports Authority board on Wednesday approved the sale of the 317-acre property to Furman Investment Advisory Services for $15.4 million. The deal still must be approved by the state Budget and Control Board next week. The Greenville-based firm has not indicated how it plans to develop the property, saying it will work with the town’s leaders.
“Over the next few months we will be actively planning a strategy to determine the property’s highest and best use, density and scale, and to analyze its potential for financial success,” Furman Company President Steve Navarro said in an email. “We recognize the strategic importance of this property to the Town of Port Royal and to Beaufort County. We intend to work closely with the public sector to insure long term economic success not only for the project but also for the greater community this property affects.”
The state legislature closed the small port back in 2004. Since then, the Ports Authority has struggled to sell the property, with at least three deals falling through in the past decade. State leaders and Beaufort legislators pushed through a law this past year that would require the Ports Authority to sell the land at auction if a deal could not be reached by June 2015. That law allowed the agency to sell the land at less than its appraised value, if necessary. Authority spokeswoman Erin Dhand said the appraisal price could not be disclosed until the deal is complete.
Dhand said port officials are optimistic this deal will happen. “Unfortunately, the economy has not worked in our favor the last decade or so,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. “There have been some difficult economic times that just did not really support the sale of a property of this size and this type.”
Town leaders had become increasingly irritated with the Ports Authority’s failure to sell the property located on the edge of the Beaufort County town’s waterfront. A developer even filed a lawsuit two weeks ago that argued the agency was not being a good steward of the land and the blighted property was hurting the town’s economy.
Ports Authority Board Chairman Bill Stern said the deal is moving forward. “We remain committed to selling the Port of Port Royal for the benefit of both the Town and Ports Authority,” he said in a release Wednesday.