For the third time since 2006, plans to purchase Port of Port Royal property fall through

emoody@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 12, 2012 

  • Agreed to give $21,000 -- $7,000 a year for three years -- to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Enhancement Committee to support efforts to reduce the financial impact of budget cuts on local military bases.

  • Gave initial approval to the annexation and rezoning of three properties -- 873 and 875 Parris Island Gateway and 1001 Cypress St.

  • Second. Final votes are expected in October.

  • Approved mutual aid agreements with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and the Port Royal Police Department.

For the third time since 2006, an attempt by developers to buy the Port of Port Royal property has fallen through.

Port Royal Town Council learned Wednesday that the Port Royal Redevelopment Group had been unable to secure financing for the $17-million purchase.

The lengthy process to purchase the land will now start over again. The South Carolina Ports Authority released a statement Wednesday saying it will work with the town to "ensure a quick turnaround and sale."

"The property will be immediately prepared for re-marketing, and an updated appraisal will be performed in view of several positive

changes on the site that have occurred over the past two years," a Ports Authority statement said.

Town Council met in executive session after its regular meeting to discuss the implications of the failed purchase.

Development agreements and plans created by the town and the Port Royal Redevelopment Group this year can be salvaged and used for future purchases, Willis said after the closed session. A special tax district created this year, for example, can be used in the future, he said. The town has not borrowed money for the latest proposal. It had promised to borrowed $4.5 million to improve roads, sewers, parks and other public areas related to port development. That money would have been repaid using tax revenue from rising property values within the development.

Wednesday was the deadline for the redevelopment group to close on the purchase.

THE BACKGROUND

The redevelopment group has been under contract to buy the land since July 1, 2011.

The group has received four extensions on the closing date as it attempted to secure financing. It has also paid the ports authority at least $200,000 for those extensions, according to numbers cited by town and authority officials. It will not get that money back.

Redevelopment group spokesman Jeff Pinckney said in a statement Wednesday that the group had not been able to secure financing.

"Due to financing difficulties the transaction was not able to close. We are diligently pursuing a new contract with a new partner."

The group plans to continue its efforts to buy the land, which it planned to turn into a 52-acre residential and commercial destination, Willis said.

"They're pretty clearly interested in pursuing this," he said.

The latest failure is the third since 2006 by a developer to purchase the port, which has been closed since 2004 when the Ports Authority deemed it too expensive to operate.

Officials and residents have repeatedly discussed the importance of getting the currently vacant and abandoned land developed to spur

economic growth in the area.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeonPortRoyal.

Related content:

Port Royal seeks greater role in port property sale plans, Aug. 11, 2012

Ports Authority seeks new buyers for Port of Port Royal property, Aug. 8, 2012

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

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