Developer proposes to buy part of Port Royal site

A developer has proposed to acquire part of the long-mothballed Port Royal Terminal in Beaufort County.

A developer wants to purchase part of the State Ports Authority's former marine terminal in Beaufort County.

Earlier this week, Richard Stewart sent SPA a proposal to pay $4 million for roughly 26 acres of the 317-acre former Port Royal terminal site.

The proposal comes amid growing pressure for the SPA to sell the long-mothballed terminal that it shuttered in 2004.

Another nudge happened earlier this year when Gov. Nikki Haley signed legislation to force the sale of the terminal by the end of June 2015, or it will be put up for auction.

The General Assembly ordered the SPA to sell the former terminal a decade ago. Several development deals have since fallen through.

As for Stewart, the $4 million deal marks his second attempt to purchase the terminal.

Earlier this year, Stewart led the proposal for a local nonprofit, the Santa Elena Foundation, to buy part of the Battery Creek property for an interpretive center marking an early European settlement. The foundation proposed acquiring fewer than 4 acres for $1.2 million or a fair assessed value. The group said the development would "increase economic development and tourism by promoting the historic and cultural significance of Santa Elena."

The SPA rejected the foundation's offer, saying the agency wanted to sell property in one transaction and added that the foundation's bid was too low, officials said.

The SPA had since said it would be willing to divide the former terminal into three parcels.

Stewart, treasurer of the Santa Elena Foundation, said this week that the new offer is based on an assessed value for the site.

He added that he's purchasing the property on his own and, after the sale, will negotiate use with the Santa Elena Foundation.

Stewart's offer also incudes 10.8 acres that would be reserved for open space intended to be donated to the town, according to the proposal.

Sign up for our new business newsletter

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.

Stewart said he was hopeful the SPA will accept his proposal, adding that it fulfills the mandate to sell the property.

"They need to just take the money," he said. "They need to get back to whatever is more important than this."

Erin Dhand, a spokeswoman for SPA, said in a written statement that the agency received the proposal and was "in the process of reviewing it."

In March, SPA board Chairman Bill Stern said the maritime agency pitched the idea that the town of Port Royal buy the former terminal property.

The sale would revive the town's master plan to develop the 52 acres of high land and the rest of the 317-acre waterfront property into a mixed-used development of commercial and residential spaces, officials have said.

Township officials have said they would review the SPA's proposal, but no decision had been made.

On Friday, Stewart said he intends to have the land developed with the same consistency as the town's plan, adding that the town's main goal is to "get this property on the tax rolls."