Bidders seek prime slice of waterfront State Ports Authority to choose buyer by May 1 as part of move

A state grand jury has requested documents from the State Ports Authority in Charleston related to payments the maritime agency made to political consultant Richard Quinn. File/Provided

The State Ports Authority is expected to take the next step toward selling its waterfront offices on Concord Street when the maritime agency’s board of directors meets Wednesday in Greer.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s president and CEO, said Monday the agency received bids for its property at 176 Concord St., but he declined to provide details before the board has a chance to review them. Bids were due Friday and the SPA plans to choose the potential buyer by May 1.

Those interested in purchasing the SPA property could bid on the office space alone or with the adjacent Fleet Landing restaurant, which leases its site. That lease expires in February 2024.

The SPA plans to move its administrative offices to the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant, Newsome said. The move is designed to put the authority’s executives closer to the agency’s workforce of about 500 employees.

The SPA would lease back its Concord Street offices from the purchaser for up to two years while new office space is built.

The move would represent the first time the ports authority’s main offices have not been located on the peninsula. The SPA has operated from its current space — between the Union Pier Terminal and the city’s Waterfront Park — since the early 1970s.

The office site likely will be torn down and redeveloped as a hotel or for residential use. Any hotel on the property probably would be limited to a maximum of 225 rooms because of city regulations.

Bidders were required to pay a $250,000 deposit at the time their bids were submitted. The winning bidder must put up an additional $750,000 to enter into a 120-day due diligence period. The deposits, totaling $1 million, would be nonrefundable at the end of the 120-day period. Newsome said he hopes a closing will take place by Oct. 1. The sale will need both board approval and the green light from the state’s Department of Administration.

The SPA’s board is meeting this week in Greer instead of Charleston to visit the agency’s inland port, where BMW vehicles are shipped by train from the German automaker’s plant to the Port of Charleston.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_