SC's Budget and Control Board approves sale of Port Royal port vacant for a decade



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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — South Carolina officials on Wednesday approved selling a port in Beaufort County that's been vacant for a decade.

In a unanimous vote, the five-member state Budget and Control Board approved the South Carolina Ports Authority's agreement to finally sell 317 acres of land in Port Royal.

After eight years and three failed attempts, the ports board last week approved the sale to Furman Investment Advisory Services of Greenville for $15.4 million. The previous asking price was $22.5 million.

The deal still needed approval from the state's financial oversight board.

The property was once the site of a small port that began operation in 1958. But it has sat vacant for a decade, and the General Assembly ordered its sale back in 2006.

Three previous attempts to sell fell through, and Gov. Nikki Haley signed legislation earlier this year that required the property to be auctioned unless it was sold by next June.

Port Royal officials and residents have been pushing to have the property redeveloped to help the local economy.

Earlier this month, a group of local businesspeople sued the Ports Authority, claiming the agency had mismanaged the sale of the property.

The lawsuit alleged that Beaufort County and the town of Port Royal lost more than $7 million in property taxes while the land remained in state hands. The lawsuit also alleged the failure to sell the property hurt the town's economy.

Any discussion over the sale happened in a closed-door executive session, after which the board voted openly to approve it. After Wednesday's meeting, Haley said the approval went along with her sentiment that South Carolina should divest itself of properties the state isn't using.

"I have said for a long time that we don't need to be in the real estate business," she told reporters.


Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

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