Officials continue work on Port of Port Royal property agreement

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 2, 2013 

  • Discussed rezoning 0.61 acres at 132 and 134 Johnny Morrall Circle from general residential to mixed-use two, which would allow businesses and residences on the property.

  • Continued to discuss ways to regulate rental units and ensure properties are maintained.

  • Discussed ongoing efforts to obtain easements from property owners along Ribaut Road for sewer line installation. Town manager Van Willis said the town wants owners to donate the easements.

  • Discussed the ongoing negotiations with the city of Beaufort regarding fire protection services.

  • S.C. State Ports Authority officials assured the town of Port Royal Wednesday night that the agency is doing everything it can to sell the shuttered Port of Port Royal property.
  • Town Council held a public hearing to discuss a development agreement with the authority for the 317-acre port -- 52 of which are buildable -- which has been closed since 2004. The proposed agreement was first voted on by council in December. A second public hearing and final vote will be Wednesday.

    The new development agreement is needed because previous pacts have expired. The last purchase attempt, by the Port Royal Redevelopment Group, fell through last summer when financing could not be finalized.

    Authority attorney George Bullwinkel said the agency hopes an improved economy, clean up work at the property, planned public infrastructure improvements by the town and updated engineering and designs will make the land more marketable.

    "We're looking at some other avenues to clean it up a bit -- we can't discuss it yet, it takes a board action -- but we're doing everything we can," he said.

    An updated appraisal of the property is expected by the end of January, Bullwinkel said. Real estate firm Nai Avant is listing the port at $20.4 million.

    "We can only sell it for the appraised value and, quite frankly, until that market comes back and financing is easier, it's a little bit more difficult," Bullwinkel said.

    The agreement has a limit of 425 residences and 250,000-square-feet of commercial space. It allows the town to start public infrastructure improvements, such as extending and repairing the boardwalk, which will connect to a proposed promenade along the length of the port. The town has a $150,000 state grant to begin the work.

    The shuttered dry stack on London Avenue must be removed within 12 months of the purchase of the land or by the end of the five-year development agreement.

    It also includes terms and deadlines for transferring the promenade and two parks to the town. The agreement would provide up to $64,500 in planning and design fees that the Authority would reimburse to the town.

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