For the second time in three months, Beaufort County Council has agreed to purchase part of the Garvey Hall property in Bluffton.
This time, the county will pay more and get less acreage.
On Monday, council voted 10-1 to purchase and preserve 82 acres of the vacant Garvey Hall parcel, some of which borders the New River, from Wooddall Holdings LLLP of Atlanta. The county is using money from the Rural and Critical Lands preservation program to cover the $1.14 million price.
The sale is to close sometime this week, county attorney Josh Gruber said.
In December, council authorized the purchase of about 87 acres of the same tract for $785,000. At the time, the county thought it was buying the land directly from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which acquired the property in a foreclosure auction.
Here's what happened:
According to the county, it began negotiating with Wooddall Holdings to acquire parts of the Garvey parcel in September and reached a tentative price of about $1.1 million. At the time, Wooddall thought it owned the land, Gruber said.
However, soon afterward, the county learned the FDIC actually owned it. The county then offered $785,000 to buy the land from the FDIC. But in December, the FDIC informed the county that it had accepted another offer -- from Wooddall Holdings.
At that point, the county resumed negotiations with Wooddall Holdings, according to Gruber.
The latest agreement allows Wooddall to retain about five acres that could be used for a recreational business, such as bike or kayak rentals. Covenants and other restrictions would prevent residential or commercial development.
"It's not like they can open a mini-mart or convenience store there. It's only something that can be ancillary to the recreational uses of the park," Gruber said, alluding to plans to create a park on the site in the future.
Attempts Tuesday to reach Charles Wooddall, who is listed as a principal of Wooddall Holdings, for comment were unsuccessful.
County records show the firm bought it for $825,000, although Gruber wasn't sure if that was solely for the Garvey parcel or whether it included other purchases.
An FDIC spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed the firm paid $825,000.
Councilman Jerry Stewart, whose district includes Garvey Hall, was pleased the county's acquisition was back on track.
"I am glad to see it's not being developed in the way that was being talked about at one point in Bluffton," he said Tuesday.
The forested parcel is along S.C. 170 near the Jasper County line in Bluffton's New Riverside area. Two nearby properties also are protected, raising the possibility that a linear park will one day be built there.
Garrett Budds of the Beaufort County Open Land Trust, which oversees the county's land-preservation purchases, said the acquisition remains a great deal for county taxpayers.
"The $1.1 million purchase price is 25 percent of the value of the note the FDIC originally foreclosed on, and approximately 60 percent of the parcel's appraised value," he said. "By any measure this represents a bargain-sale acquisition and a wonderful addition to the county's protected land base."