Port Royal residents could see the chain taken off the gates of a former state port terminal as early as Friday.
A group of “local businessmen and national developers” were the successful bidders for the 317-acre property on Battery Creek, according a real estate broker representing the buyers. About 51 acres are high ground and slated for development into single-family homes, businesses and a 250-slip marina.
Department of Administration director Marcia Adams told the town Thursday the agency had reached an agreement with Van Cleve Enterprises Inc.
“We are most happy for the town, businesses and residents of Port Royal,” the buyers said in a statement provided by Whit Suber, a broker with Home Shop Realty who is working with the development group. “They have endured decades of frustration and arrested economic development.
“This long journey to nowhere is almost over.”
State Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, confirmed Thursday that there is a contract on the property.
The buyers have 90 days for due diligence, with closing planned for early August.
A deposit is due Tuesday. And the buyers have 45 days to back out with a refund.
If earnest money isn’t delivered or buyers end the deal before 45 days, the state agency will move to the next qualified bidder.
“I feel very energized at this point,” Erickson said. “I think we’ve got a good chance at seeing this thing finally completed, which I believe is what everybody wants.”
Suber isn’t waiting to celebrate. He plans to host a gathering at the port gate at the end of Paris Avenue on Friday evening to make a grand display of taking down the chain from the fence blocking the public from the waterfront as a symbol of progress.
The buyers plan to follow an existing development agreement to connect the town to the water, add open park space, new homes and boat slips, Suber said.
He said the team of buyers includes local business owners who want locations at Port Royal’s waterfront. The development group is actively recruiting a mid-size business with 40 to 60 employees, according to a news release.
Town officials had hoped to hear at the beginning of the week the results of a monthslong bidding process to finally sell the Port of Port Royal and turn the property over to the private sector. But the Department of Administration was still vetting the potential buyers before awarding the bid.
“We just need to be patient a couple more days,” Councilman Tom Klein said during a workshop Wednesday night.
Closed bidding started Jan. 1, ended Friday and drew multiple offers. Adams said Monday that identifying the potential buyers and bidding amounts could affect the agency’s ability to close the deal.
Once the bid is awarded, any changes the buyers might want to a development agreement before closing would require Town Council approval. And any proposed change to a planned unit development on the property would go before a northern Beaufort County planning committee and then to the council for approval.
The circumstances seemingly have never been better to sell the property.
A new appraisal last year valued the property at $6.95 million, a fraction of previous asking prices. And the short turnaround time for due diligence favored bidders already intimately familiar with the property and existing development guidelines.
After years of disappointment, town officials still remained guarded this week.
“It’s hard to get excited about any of this anymore,” town manager Van Willis said Wednesday. “We just hope it closes.”
Party at the port?
Real estate broker Whit Suber plans a celebration with Port Royal residents and town officials on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the end of Paris Avenue. The chain will be removed from the gate, beverages served and names will be solicited for the project, Suber said.