Beaufort News

Appraisals value Beaufort Commerce Park below $2.5M asking price

Beaufort County's plan to buy a commerce park for $2.5 million might be up in the air now that two appraisals show its value to be well below that figure.

"I don't believe the county can buy it for more than the appraised value," said County Councilman Stu Rodman.

A report delivered Thursday by Charleston Appraisal Service puts the Beaufort Commerce Park's market value at $1.64 million. That figure is based on a retail value of $2.89 million, discounted for the five years the company assumes it would take to sell the parcels.

A separate appraisal, performed by Ray Murphy of Mount Pleasant and delivered last week, estimates a $2 million market value and a $3.675 million retail value.

Council voted twice to purchase the park for $2.5 million before voting Feb. 14 to postpone a final decision for 60 days -- in part, so the property could be valued.

The county contracted with two companies, at $3,500 each, to provide appraisals. County administrator Gary Kubic has said he sought two separate estimates because of the high-profile nature of the purchase proposal.

Some council members declined to comment on the appraisal figures Thursday, saying they had not yet read one or both of the reports.

Rodman said he thinks the new numbers will effectively end any talk of buying the park for $2.5 million. Instead, he said, council might discuss a purchase price halfway between the market values of $1.64 million and $2 million shown by the two appraisals.

"Clearly -- from my perspective -- to look at $1.8 million as a blend of the two is probably where the converstaion and negotiations ought to go," he said.

In 2010, the county offered to buy the property for as much as $1.5 million, but the lenders rejected it.

The park's owner, the Lowcountry Economic Network, owes about $2.5 million on the property, and Kubic has said his previous negotiation led him to believe the banks would refuse anything less.

Councilman Steve Baer, who has opposed the purchase, said the new appraisals -- and how much council might have overpaid if it had bought the park at $2.5 million -- show how wise it was to postpone a decision.

"We were very lucky -- or had great foresight," he said.