- Gov. Nikki Haley has signed legislation that forces the sale of the former Port of Port Royal property near Beaufort where the state used to run a small marine terminal.

The new law requires the State Ports Authority to sell the land by the end of June 2015.

The General Assembly previously ordered the Charleston-based maritime agency to sell the 317-acre waterfront property a decade ago.

The original deadline for the sale was the end of 2009.

Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, and a former SPA board member, sponsored the bill that mandates a sale by the middle of next year. The legislation passed the House and the Senate last month.

The SPA operated a port on the property starting in 1958.

It ceased operations at the Port Royal site, which includes 52 developable acres and deep water on Battery Creek, in 2006.

Three attempts to find buyer for the land since 2006 have fallen through.

The bill that Haley signed requires the property be sold by June 30, 2015, or it will be put up for auction.

In either case, the real estate must be sold for 80 percent or more of the appraised value. If auction prices don't meet the minimum, the General Services Division would put the port back on the market.

The land was appraised at $22.5 million a year ago.

"We look forward to finding a suitable buyer and selling our property at the Port of Port Royal expeditiously," the SPA said in statement last month.

Separately, the agency has agreed to divest another piece of Beaufort County real estate. A 14,400-square-foot former crop-packing shed is being sold to an unnamed buyer for $195,000.

SPA spokeswoman Erin Pabst said details can't be released until the deal is finalized. She declined to say when the sale is expected to close, according to a report Tuesday in the Beaufort Gazette.

The vacant warehouse had been listed for sale by the NAI Avant for $251,100. The Columbia-based commercial real estate firm also is marketing the former Port of Port Royal.

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.