The Girl Scouts sold Camp Low Country to Charleston businessman Michael Bennett, bringing to a close more than four decades of outdoor experiences for girls.
Loretta Graham, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina, said the former Richmond Plantation in Cordesville sold for $2.5 million at an auction Friday. After paying auction and other camp expenses, the cash-strapped group will bring in $2.2 million. The property in 2010 was appraised at $3.7 million.
Bennett, a hotel and resort developer and contractor with Bennett Hospitality and Bennett Hofford Construction, said Wednesday that he has signed a contract on the property. He can’t yet say what he might do with it because the sale is not quite final. He bid on it because it’s a beautiful piece of property with many historic buildings, he said. “And I’ve been renovating old buildings for a long time now.”
Bennett also owns Quinby Plantation in Huger. And his company has developed several properties in the Charleston area including: the Embassy Suites in the historic district, the Hampton Inn & Suites on the Isle of Palms Connector, the Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley and the Residence Inn on the Isle of Palms Connector.
Graham said most of the money will go into a reserve fund. The national Girl Scout organization requires councils to have six months of expenses on hand, she said. But the eastern South Carolina council for years has fallen short of that requirement. The council’s operating expenses come to about $200,000 per month, she said.
The group’s financial problems escalated after a 2005 decision by the national organization to merge councils, Graham has said. Two eastern South Carolina councils merged, she said. The move was supposed to save money, but it had the opposite effect. Legal and other merger fees were costly, and the new organization lost members. That meant fewer Girl Scouts were selling cookies and participating in other fundraising events.
The group still is considering selling some of its other property, she said.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.