Port Royal port owner should improve property's look

info@islandpacket.comDecember 21, 2012 

The 8-year effort to sell the 317-acre Port of Port Royal is likely to take a while longer -- a third attempt at a deal fell through this year -- and the town's residents shouldn't have to look at ill-kempt property in the meantime.

With that in mind, the town of Port Royal has asked the S.C. State Ports Authority, which owns the property, for more improvements as part of a new development agreement.

The old agreement between the Ports Authority and the town has expired, and the most important terms of the new one will be the rules for developing the 52 buildable acres there. That aspect of the agreement is likely to shape the town for generations to come.

But that doesn't make the short term unimportant.

The town is asking the Ports Authority to remove a dry stack building on London Avenue that many residents consider an eyesore and allow construction of a waterfront promenade on its property. The dry stack would be removed within 12 months of the purchase of the land or by the end of the five-year development agreement.

The town will do its part to keep the property looking good. For instance, a group of residents with property near the port have pledged to clean up growth that sprouts over a fence surrounding the property, said town manager Van Willis. That work is expected to begin after the holidays, and the town has agreed to dispose of waste and trimmings.

The town also will improve The Sands beach and build the promenade, with the Ports Authority's permission, so a state grant it procured can be spent by a fall 2013 deadline. Parks and the land the promenade is on would be conveyed to the town within two years of a sale. The design and engineering costs for the promenade would be paid for by the Ports Authority.

Town Council approved the first reading of the proposal Dec. 12. A second vote could occur during January meetings.

Construction of the promenade might add a bit to the property's value and certainly would demonstrate to prospective owners the town's commitment to its development.

Demolition of the dry stack building, on the other hand, probably wouldn't do much to enhance the value -- in fact, the most recent suitor wanted to incorporate it into its development. Nonetheless, it would make the shuttered port -- at this point, a symbol of the town's unfulfilled potential and the recession's impact -- much easier on residents' eyes.

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