Deadline to buy Port of Port Royal passes with no word on status

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJuly 6, 2012 

The final day of an agreement between a prospective buyer and the S.C. Ports Authority came and went Friday with no word on the status of the sale of the Port of Port Royal property.

The Port Royal Development Group is attempting to buy the land for $17 million to create a 52-acre residential and commercial center. It twice has purchased 30-day extensions at $75,000 each to keep the deal alive. The second of those extensions was set to expire Friday.

As of 4:30 p.m., developers at their office said they and lawyers were continuing to work on the purchase. Among their options was a third 30-day extension for $100,000.

Group representative Jeff Pinckney said he would have a comment later in the evening but did not return phone calls.

Town manager Van Willis said he had asked the developers to provide something in writing he could show to Town Council members -- a fax or email, for instance -- indicating they intend to move forward. He had not received anything nor heard from the developers as of 7:30 p.m.

Town officials and residents have said redevelopment of the port property is essential to Port Royal's economic development.

The developers have partnered with the town on development agreements and plans, and the town has agreed to borrow $4.5 million, even before the deal has closed, to improve roads, sewers and parks related to the project. The money would be repaid using tax revenue that results from rising property values within the new development.

If the sale is finalized, the money the developers have paid for the deal extensions will go toward the purchase price, but it is nonrefundable if the deal fails.

This is the third attempt by a developer since 2006 to buy the property and the only proposal to get this far in the purchase process.

The Ports Authority operated a small port on the land from 1958 through 2004, until the state decided it was too expensive to continue. Concerns about financing and the amount of park space included in development plans killed previous deals.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnPortRoyal.

Related content: Developer uses second 30-day extension on Port of Port Royal purchase, June 7, 2012

Developers buy extension on closing Port of Port Royal deal, May 7, 2012

Developer confident purchase of Port of Port Royal will succeed, March 14, 2012

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