Ports Authority seeks new buyers for Port of Port Royal property

emoody@beaufortgazette.comAugust 8, 2012 

  • announced Alan Beach will be the town's new police chief. Beach, who has been with the department since 1987, has served as the interim chief since the death of Jim Cadien in February. A formal swearing-in ceremony is expected next week.

  • appointed six people to a committee to review the proposed form-based code, which focuses more on building appearance than use. They are: Lee Helena, John Ellerbe, Jim Crower, Judy Alling, Reed Armstrong and Mary Klein.

  • approved the annexation and rezoning of 2.64 acres belonging to the First Christian Church of Shell Point, at 100-104 Savannah Highway and 7036 L.H. Nelson Drive.

  • approved a resolution endorsing the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

  • met in executive session to discuss the fire service contract with the city of Beaufort.

The state is seeking new buyers for the Port of Port Royal property despite the fact that the developer attempting to buy it for $17 million has a month to close the deal.

"Due to the continued difficulties the buyer has faced getting their final financing arrangements, we have granted a final extension with a closing date of Sept. 12," S.C. State Ports Authority spokeswoman Allison Skipper said by phone Wednesday. "But in the meantime, we are open to speaking with other potential buyers in case that does not go through."

The property continues to be listed by the NAI Avant real estate firm at $20.4 million. The company previously marketed the 52-acre property.

"I think it's great to put it on the market," Councilman Joe Lee said after Wednesday's Town Council meeting. "It's been off the market for a year. Times have changed. There might be a lot of people interested in buying it."

The Port Royal Redevelopment Group has been attempting to buy the property to build a residential and commercial destination for about a year. The sale was originally set to close by May 7, and the group has received four extensions.

The first two extensions were each for 30 days, and developers paid $75,000 for each. The money will not be refunded if the sale does not close but will be applied toward the purchase price if it does.

Skipper said this final extension cost the development group $50,000. She did not know how much the third extension cost.

Jeff Pinckney, a representative of the development group, said during Wednesday's town council meeting the group is "close" to finalizing financing.

Town manager Van Willis said the agreement between the Ports Authority and the Port Royal Redevelopment Group prohibits the developers from discussing the extension.

However, Pinckney said Wednesday he was not concerned about the Port Authority soliciting other buyers. The webpage marketing the property was never taken down, he said.

Signs have also remained in front of the port property, at the end of Paris Avenue, throughout the purchase process.

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

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnPortRoyal.

Related content:

Developer for proposed Port of Port Royal renovations thanks town for patience, July 11, 2012

Port of Port Royal developers get 60-day extension to close deal, July 7, 2012

Deadline to buy Port of Port Royal passes with no word on status, July 6, 2012

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