MeadWestvaco Corp. said today it has hired investment bankers to help it explore “strategic options to unlock the value” of its Summerville-based development arm and the 650,000 acres it oversees, including large swaths of land in the Charleston region.

CEO John Luke did not specify what those options could be for the MWV Community Development and Land Management unit, but he suggested the company will seek investment partners to take on projects the South Carolina real estaee division has been pursuing.

“When we established the Community Development and Land Management business, we indicated that we would review options when the timing was appropriate,” Luke said. “An improvement in market fundamentals as well as progress in the business suggested the timing was right to review a broad range of alternatives, and that process is ongoing.”

The Richmond, Va.-based papermaker-turned-packaging giant said it has retained Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs & Co. to help with the process. The firms are looking at tapping into the value of “forestlands, properties with mineral rights, and development properties in the Charleston, South Carolina, region,” according to a statement.

“With respect to MWV’s development projects, which encompass over 100,000 acres in the Charleston, South Carolina, area, we are pleased with the significant progress and value creation our experienced team has achieved,” Luke said while announcing first quarter earnings. “We will consider transactions in which MWV retains control and the present Community Development and Land Management development team remains engaged to ensure that the company’s stewardship commitment remains intact and that our shareholders benefit from the significant value that already has been and will be created with these properties.”

MWV Community Development and Land Management’s biggest undertakings are Nexton, which is just getting off the ground in Summerville, and the 78,600-acre East Edisto, which has been described as 50-year project where Dorchester and western Charleston counties converge.

Check back at www.postandcourer.com later for more details.

Contact John P. McDermott at 937-5572.