On Sept. 21, 2004, a law was enacted ordering the South Carolina State Ports Authority to sell the closed terminal in the town of Port Royal so that it could be redeveloped in accordance with a master plan approved by the town. The Ports Authority initially valued the property at $26.6 million; most recently, it pegged the value at $22.5 million.
Despite numerous requests amid complaints that these values were ridiculously high, the Ports Authority refused to let the public see its appraisals. Contract after contract fell through, with no purchaser able to pay the demanded price.
Fed up, I authored a bill in 2014, signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley, stripping the property away from the Ports Authority and putting the Department of Administration in charge of its disposition.
Last month, a new appraisal commissioned by that department (and published by it online) determined the property’s value to be only $6.95 million. And early next year, it will be sold at auction to the highest bidder, with numerous groups now interested in bidding on a property that is, finally, reasonably valued.
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Was the Ports Authority more interested in carrying the property on its books at a grossly inflated market value, perhaps to improve its bonding capacity, than in obeying legislative and gubernatorial orders to sell the property expeditiously for a reasonable price?
I will make sure this question is answered and that there are consequences for what I consider to be more than a decade’s worth of disregard of the law and disdain for the town’s residents.
State Sen. Tom Davis