Future of Port of Port Royal, with Town Manager Van Willis
The state agency previously charged with selling a former shipping terminal in Port Royal released all of its appraisals of the property this week.
S.C. Ports Authority appraiser Charleston Appraisal Service valued the property seven times, starting in 2007 and most recently in 2014. The authority released the appraisals this week in response to an open-records request in January by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.
Developers and lawmakers have been critical of the authority’s yearslong attempt to sell its decommissioned port for redevelopment. They pointed to the high cost as a barrier and noted the agency’s refusal to make appraisals public.
State Sen. Tom Davis this month said he plans to ask for an investigation of the authority’s handling of the sale.
A September 2014 appraisal valued the 317-acre property for a total of $21.8 million. The value was then discounted 15 percent — to $18.532 million — to accommodate a potential buyer who wanted the entire property.
Control of the sale was turned over to the Department of Administration last year, and a new appraisal released in November arrived at a $6.95 million value.
Ports Authority spokeswoman Kelsi Childress said this week the agency is still reviewing the Department of Administration’s appraisal and would respond to questions about differences in the value when the review is complete.
The three tracts were valued as high as $21.9 million to $22.9 million in both 2007 and 2008.
The property was originally listed for sale in 2007 for $27 million after the initial appraisal.
The value dropped to $16.519 million based on new appraisals in December 2009 and March 2011 — after the Great Recession.
The value rose again to a little more than $21 million in 2013, an increase accompanied by more usable acreage and lower infrastructure costs for the buyer, according to the appraisal report. The 2013 appraisal was the last before a 2014 state law mandated yet another appraisal. The law also required the authority to consider the port a closed industrial site as a factor in as its environmental condition.
In 2014, Charleston Appraisal Service compared recently sold waterfront, mixed-use properties in Mount Pleasant and Savannah to the Port Royal property to develop a price per acre, making adjustments based on the characteristics of each property.
Previous appraisals had compared the port property to waterfront property on Lady’s Island and in Port Royal and adjusted the price based on market conditions and costs required to prepare it for development.
The new value was determined by Sage Valuation for the Department of Administration. State law gave the department control of the sale, and a new appraisal was required before the property went to bid.
Sage Valuation’s method considered the market value of the property’s various parts as if developed and subtracted the cost to develop and sell the property over time.
This type of analysis was based on how potential developers would view the property, a Sage Valuation report said.
Bidding is currently underway based on the latest appraisal and will continue through March. The winning bid will be awarded in April with closing planned for Aug. 1.
The property must sell for 80 percent of its appraised value.
Town officials and others involved in the redevelopment process believe the property will now sell for more than its appraised value. The two most recent accepted offers each were for more than $15 million.