The S.C. State Ports Authority has agreed for a third time to sell the former Port of Port Royal, and town officials hope this attempt will succeed.
The authority's board voted 8-0 Tuesday to approve the $17 million deal with a prospective buyer whose identity has not been disclosed.
The state Budget and Control Board also must approve the sale. The authority's chairman or chief executive could then sign a sales contract.
The buyer signed a letter of intent in late April to buy the 51-acre property along Battery Creek.
Town officials have met with the buyer and discussed plans to redevelop the property.
"We're optimistic this one will actually close," town manager Van Willis said. "... We are both pleased and impressed with what they intend to do."
Authority officials hope the Budget and Control Board will consider the matter Aug. 9, according to spokesman Byron Miller.
If the Budget and Control Board approves the deal, the buyer would have a due-diligence and inspection period before the sale could close, according to the authority.
The authority operated a small port on the land from 1958 through 2004, when it closed at the urging of then-Gov. Mark Sanford.
Two previous attempts to sell the property have failed.
A group of Hilton Head Island investors tried to get financing for the parcel in 2007, but the deal fell apart in 2008.
Earlier this year, Gramling Brothers Real Estate and Development of Charleston backed away from a pending $16.75 million contract.
Gramling Brothers had concerns about title issues on several smaller pieces of property within the larger tract and restrictions on a more than 200-slip marina, town and authority officials said at the time.
Gramling Brothers requested more time to work through those issues before making a scheduled $50,000 deposit -- a request the authority denied.
The company had sought to buy the property and eliminate a 10-acre waterfront park at the end of London Avenue, putting homes there instead. Sanford and many residents opposed the idea.