Boeing, Charleston airport board reach new deal on land purchase
Boeing Co. will double its footprint in North Charleston in a scaled-down land deal, but it hasn’t closed the door on future land acquisitions.
Charleston County Aviation Authority on Thursday unanimously re-elected attorney Andy Savage as chairman for the next 12 months. He was first elected in January.
Charleston County Aviation Authority voted unanimously Thursday on an amended agreement to sell less property to the plane-maker for more money after the site was reappraised to meet Federal Aviation Administration recommendations.
The amount of land around Charleston International Airport that Boeing will buy is being reduced to about 267 acres from 320 acres, airports director Paul Campbell said. Boeing will pay at least $13.8 million, or about $52,000 an acre.
The airport board voted in March to sell the property for $12.5 million, or about $39,000 an acre, but the FAA, which had to sign off on the sale, questioned the deal.
Under the new plan, Boeing won’t seek to purchase about 20 acres near the air traffic control tower and will not acquire about 33 acres of roadways, Campbell said.
Boeing planned to acquire parts of International Boulevard and Michaux Parkway after road realignments open up those sites for development, but the aircraft maker will wait until the roads are realigned to pursue the property, Boeing attorney Mark Fava said Thursday.
The exact realignment has not been decided, but International Boulevard could shift south and run along a power line easement before intersecting with Michaux Parkway.
The company also is giving up its rights to buy 482 acres straddling Michaux Parkway at Dorchester Road and abutting the Air Force base, Campbell said.
Both of those items were included in the original purchase agreement.
“We can always come back to it,” Fava said. “Nobody else is going after that land. We decided to concentrate on the here and now.”
The price difference comes from an FAA-approved methodology for more in-depth, separate appraisals of each of the parcels, Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said.
Some of the parcels directly across from Boeing’s 787 campus on International Boulevard were revalued as high as $65,000 an acre.
Also, about half of the property Boeing is buying will be wetlands after the reassessment. Before it was about 78 acres.
Boeing hopes to close on the land deal before the end of the year.
“We are very excited about it,” said Fava, referring to the nearly two-year effort to close the deal.
Boeing currently leases 241 acres under its existing 787 Dreamliner factory from the Aviation Authority. It has an option to buy the property but not before 2025.
Once the FAA signs off on the amended agreement, the land sale can move forward.
“I think it’s a good deal for everybody,” said former congressman Tommy Hartnett, an airport board member who chairs the Land Sale Committee. “We’re getting a little bit more money. They are getting all the land they need.”
Boeing has not said what it plans to do with the land, but the aerospace giant is not expected to sit on it.
“We have no current plans for the property rather than to protect it for any possible future growth in South Carolina,” Eslinger said.
Aviation analysts have floated a number of possibilities, including assembling the extended 787-10, building the 777X or the eventual successor to the 737 MAX. Adding a paint facility at the site could make sense since Dreamliners built in North Charleston must be flown to Texas to be painted and then flown back to South Carolina for delivery to customers.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.