Charleston ports agency picks winning bidder for office sale

An aerial view of Waterfront Park and State Ports Authority office building to the right. File/Leroy Burnell/Staff

The State Ports Authority’s board of directors on Wednesday unanimously authorized Jim Newsome, the maritime agency’s president and CEO, to negotiate a contract to sell the office space at 176 Concord St. and the adjacent Fleet Landing restaurant site to one of 12 bidders that submitted proposals.

The board did not announce the winning bidder or the amount, saying the chosen developer has five days to enter into a contract by paying an additional $750,000 in earnest money. All bidders had to pay a refundable $250,000 deposit when their proposals were submitted.

“We will not disclose the identity of the successful bidder until this money is in hand,” said SPA spokeswoman Erin Dhand.

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.

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