The sprawling former Carolina Nurseries plant farm outside Moncks Corner will be sold to the highest bidder by Oct. 25 through sealed bids.

The defunct wholesale plant nursery on 686 acres along U.S. 52 was acquired by ZZ Acquisitions LLC, an affiliate of North Charleston-based industrial conglomerate The InterTech Group Inc., in December during a public auction after no one stepped forward to outbid the debt ZZ Acquisitions was owed by the nearly century-old business.

The InterTech affiliate loaned the wholesale nursery about $12 million in March 2009 to keep the financially struggling business on firm ground, but the sluggish economy proved the nursery's uprooting. Crippled by the recession, the nursery was unable to repay the loan or find other financial backers, so the lender foreclosed on the Berkeley County property.

As recently as July, InterTech's executive vice president Robert Johnston said the company was in no hurry to divest itself of the property as they continued to sell off some of the millions of plants in its inventory, but on Tuesday he said the timing is more favorable.

"Now just seems like the right time to do it," Johnston said. "I think the timing from this business perspective is correct. The Charleston (real estate) market is better than some markets. It's a very special piece of property."

The land fronts along the four-laned U.S. 52 for nearly two miles, it includes a 105-acre reservoir and has more than 100 wooded acres for future expansion, along with rail availability.

"We think there will be a lot of people interested," Johnston said. "We are doing a national campaign to let people know about this."

ZZ Acquisitions has said all along that it has no interest in operating a nursery and would eventually sell the struggling enterprise.

Most of the site is zoned for agricultural use. The northern end, which is now a weed patch, is zoned for heavy industry.

"The highest and best use will be a nursery," Johnston said. "It still has a sizable amount of inventory."

But if someone wanted it for another use, he said that could probably be accommodated.

The sale is being handled through Chicago-based NRC Realty & Capital Advisors LLC in conjunction with Meyer Kapp & Associates LLC of Charleston.

"This is the ideal property for someone looking to enter the horticulture industry or expand current operations in the Southeast and along the East Coast," said Evan Gladstone, NRC's executive managing director.

The president of Meyer Kapp & Associates called it "one of the best and most unique properties on the market right now" because of its existing infrastructure and location.

"This is a rare opportunity for a smart buyer to purchase prime available real estate in South Carolina, acreage that offers unique expansion opportunities and unlimited potential," Woody Kapp said.

To view property-specific information and to receive sale updates, register online at www.nrc.com/1117. Sales brochures are available by calling 800-747-3342.