Port Royal councilwoman Mary Beth Heyward got straight to the point during Wednesday night's town council meeting.
"Got that money in the bank?" she asked Jeff Pinckney, a representative of the Port Royal Redevelopment Group, which is attempting to buy the Port of Port Royal for $17 million from the S.C. State Ports Authority.
"Pretty close," he told her.
The development group received a third extension from the authority on Saturday so it could finish lining up financing, according to a statement from the group. It intends to build a 52-acre waterfront commercial and residential destination.
Pinckney thanked the council and residents Wednesday for their support during the port planning and purchase process.
"Our goal is to not only to acquire the port property but to develop it in a fashion that the Port Royal Redevelopment Group, the town council and residents will step back one day and say 'we were part of this wonderful project,'" Pinckney said. "In other words, we're getting close to the finish line and we just really want to thank you guys for being patient."
An official statement Wednesday from the Ports Authority says it granted the new "grace period" requested by the development group "to allow for completion of financing" for the purchase, first phase of construction and public works improvements.
The statement does not say how long the grace period is, but did say closing was anticipated within 30 days from July 7, when the latest agreement was struck.
Ports Authority spokeswoman Allison Skipper did not have details on the contract negotiations or extension, including if any payments were required for the additional time.
A statement from the development group Saturday said a 60-day extension was granted by the Ports Authority. Pinckney would not comment on whether that extension required a payment, and, if so, how much that payment was. He couldn't be reached for an explanation between the initial announcement of a 60-day extension and Wednesday's announcement of an expected closing date within 30 days.
The sale closing was extended twice before, each time for 30 days. Developers paid $75,000 for each extension. The money is nonrefundable if the sale does not close but goes toward costs if it is successful.
The developers have partnered with the town on development agreements and plans, and the town has agreed to borrow $4.5 million to improve roads, sewers and parks related to the project. The money would be repaid using tax revenue that results from rising property values within the new development.
This is the third attempt by a developer since 2006 to buy the property and the only proposal to get this far in the purchase process.