A Beaufort County developer closed Thursday on a $61 million deal to develop 5,000 Jasper County acres into an industrial park fed by a future shipping port on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.
The land, known as the Hardeeville Tract, is bound by the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge on the west, crosses Interstate 95 to the north and U.S. 17 to the south.
Billy Gavigan, a broker for the deal who represents the private equity fund and owns Citadel Realty, said 2,000 acres will be used for industrial development. He said the remaining land will be residential or commercial.
The deal is one of the first projects that Jasper County has seen that can be directly attributed to its strategic position near the future bi-state port in Jasper County and the Port of Savannah, both on the Savannah River.
The land was selected because of its proximity to the Port of Savannah and is less than 6 miles from what will be the $450 million South Atlantic International Terminal Port in Jasper County.The new Jasper port is a venture with Georgia and will be overseen by a bi-state port office. It is expected to open in seven to 10 years.
The buyers were not identified by the broker because of a confidentiality agreement between the buyers and landowner John Reed. The buyers are represented by Citadel, Gateway and McVay Realty, said Gavigan.
"With the emergence of the new port, the property should be one of the biggest things to ever happen down here. It's our intent (with the development) to create jobs for the South Carolina side," he said.
Investors have shelled out more than $364 million for economic development on the Georgia side of the Savannah River in anticipation of the joint shipping port.
"With the growth and emergence of the port this is a logical industrial buy," Gavigan said. He said the developers are hoping the location will make access to the port, CSX railroad and highways easier for international companies that build hubs on the site.
There also is maneuvering under way to secure money for a new exit -- Exit 3 -- off Interstate 95.
"The city has made it its No. 1 priority," said Ted Felder, Hardeeville's economic development director. The new exit would provide a permanent hurricane evacuation route and alleviate some of the daily traffic, Felder said.
"That's what we're still determining, who'll pay. We can't wait for years for the federal funds to trickle down," he said. "I'd like to see it in place in the next year."
Felder said the project is on the S.C. Department of Transportation's Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan.
Staff for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., confirmed that there are plans to create a new exit.