Developer Dick Stewart says he has offered to pay $4 million in cash for a third of the Port of Port Royal property owned by the S.C. State Ports Authority.
Stewart submitted the offer Thursday to the Ports Authority, along with an appraisal he commissioned. He says the offer is based on that appraisal's full price.
"I'm expecting them to take it," he said. "Why wouldn't they? It's a full-price offer -- all cash, no contingencies."
Authority spokeswoman Erin Dhand confirmed Thursday that an offer had been received.
"Our broker notified us that he received an offer today, and the next step is for the (Ports Authority) to review and evaluate the offer," Dhand wrote in an email. "We don't have additional information to share at this point." Attempts to reach authority board chairman Peter Lehman were unsuccessful.
The port has been vacant since 2004, when it was deemed too expensive to continue operating. The Ports Authority was ordered to sell the land, but three attempts to do so since 2006 have fallen through.
Realtor Rob Lapin of NAI Avant, which is handling the property for the Ports Authority, said there is a lot of interest in the property, but none of the property is under sales contract.
Stewart's offer is for 25.64 acres, which includes 10.8 acres that would be reserved for public open space and likely would be given to the town of Port Royal. It also includes the port terminal on Battery Creek, a rear warehouse and the drystack.
The offer marks Stewart's second attempt this year to purchase a portion of the port property. Previously, he led the Santa Elena Foundation's bid to buy 4 acres for $1.2 million. That offer was rejected because it was too low and because it was not for the entire port property, according to letters from the Ports Authority.
Since rejecting the foundation's offer, the authority has decided to allow the land to be sold in three predetermined parcels, and suggested Stewart make an offer on the Port Village parcel that includes the land the foundation wants.
Stewart said that's what he's done.
If he buys the land, an agreement with the foundation will be negotiated separately, he said. The nonprofit foundation wants to establish an interpretive center to showcase the history of Santa Elena, the first colonial capital of America in 1569, according to the foundation.
Remaining land will be developed "in consistency with the town's plan," Stewart said, adding he won't seek changes to zoning or the planned unit development the town created for the property, he said.
Since Stewart's first offer, the General Assembly has passed a law designed to encourage the authority to sell quickly and with fewer restrictions. That includes a state mandate to have the property reappraised by an appraiser experienced with closed industrial sites.
Stewart's appraisal meets that requirement and establishes a fair-market value, he said.
Previous attempts to review the March 2013 appraisal done for the Ports Authority have been unsuccessful. It set a $22.5 million value for the entire 317-acre property, 52 acres of which are buildable.
Included with Stewart's offer is an appraisal he commissioned for the Village parcel, which is $1.044 million for the buildings and $2.968 million for the land.
The Ports Authority has not previously released values for specific parcels, stating that the land was appraised as a whole.
The Port of Port Royal has been home to a number of industrial enterprises, which are partially detailed in environmental reports from previous purchase attempts. Those enterprises included a railroad depot, a fertilizer company, a seafood processing plant and a cement distribution company.
Environmental reports from previous purchase attempts detail the possibility of eight hazardous sites on the property.
Stewart said his offer does not ask the Ports Authority to perform any cleanup. He is, however, asking the agency to tell him of any known pollutants on site.
"They don't have to clean it up; they don't have to investigate; they just have to sell it and get on with their lives," he said.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.