The Palmetto Bay Marina on Hilton Head Island has been sold to a Daufuskie Island resort owner in a deal totaling $10.5 million, according to Beaufort County deed records.
Palmetto Bay Partners purchased the property Feb. 1 on Helmsman Way along Broad Creek for $6.27 million and assumed $4.2 million in mortgage indebtedness, records show. The buyer is an entity of The Pelorus Group of Utah, which also owns Melrose on the Beach resort and golf course on Daufuskie, according to Pelorus owner J.T. Bramlette.
Bramlette said the deal will expand ferry service to Daufuskie but also lead to big improvements for the Hilton Head marina and for Daufuskie Island. He said he planned to make an announcement this month about changes for the marina and the reopening of the former Melrose Landing ferry-embarkation point on Hilton Head’s Broad Creek. He said the ferry launch’s new name would be the Daufuskie Landing.
“There’s a lot of good news to come,” Bramlette said. “This will really help progress the movement of Daufuskie Island.”
Daufuskie’s former main embarkation point at Salty Fare Landing, outside the Squire Pope Road gate of Hilton Head Plantation, has been closed, and the area is being developed as an assisted-living center. Calibogue Cruises currently provides service from Broad Creek Marina, and Haig Point has a private ferry service.
The deal comes amid a lawsuit filed by previous prospective marina buyers alleging they are owed $250,000 in earnest money from former marina owner Douglas W. James of Cross Island Associates. Cross Island sold the marina to Palmetto Bay Partners.
The suit was filed in October 2014 by Hilton Head residents Jason and Cynthia Bullock, who had offered to buy half interest in the marina property for $4.6 million.
On Feb. 4, 2016, three days after the marina’s sale, the Bullocks filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on any sale of the property or for an order of attachment of sales proceeds, according to court records.
Bramlette said the legal dispute would not affect the marina’s sale.
“That will be left up to the past owner,” he said. “That had nothing to do with us.”
James’ former lawyer in the real estate deal, Stephen Edward Carter of Port Royal, was charged with taking $100,000 from James’ escrow account and using it to buy a car and pay alimony and other personal and business expenses, according to court and law enforcement records.
Carter disbursed $150,000 as authorized by James, but was supposed to keep $100,000 in the account until the deal closed, according to court records. The deal didn’t close, and the Bullocks sued James and Cross Island Associates to get the earnest money back.
Carter was disbarred in November by the state Supreme Court and ordered to pay back the $100,000, with interest and legal costs by the end of 2015. But that didn’t happen.
He was charged with breach of trust fraudulent intent Jan. 6 and was released from the Beaufort County jail on a $50,000 personal-recognizance bond.
An attempt to reach James and his lawyer, Mark Hardee of Columbia, was unsuccessful.
An attempt to contact the Bullocks’ lawyer, Greg Alford of Hilton Head, was also unsuccessful.