Port Royal lawsuit withdrawn against State Ports Authority

A lawsuit filed against the State Ports Authority over its failed attempts to sell the Port Royal terminal has been withdrawn.

A lawsuit filed against the State Ports Authority, claiming failed efforts to sell the agency’s former Port Royal marine terminal have cost local governments more than $7 million in lost property tax revenue, was dismissed Wednesday.

A consent order dismissing the case was submitted from both sides to Special Circuit Judge Marvin Dukes, who was hearing the case in Beaufort County’s master-in-equity court. The case had been scheduled for motions hearings on Thursday.

SPA spokeswoman Erin Dhand said the case was dismissed by “mutual agreement of the parties.”

The lawsuit was filed last fall by Beaufort County business owners Nancy Vista, who owns a clothing and gift store; Elizabeth Jenkins, who ran a cooking school; and developer Dick Stewart. They claimed the SPA’s alleged mismanagement of the sale has hurt the local economy.

The SPA had said the claims had no merit.

Harvey McCormick, a Beaufort lawyer representing the business owners, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The latest deal to sell the Port Royal facility fell apart last week when Furman Co. Investment Advisory Service of Greenville could not complete the terms of its $15.42 million proposed purchase.

The SPA “intends to solicit new offers for the property without delay,” according to an agency statement.

The Port Royal site will go on the auction block if it isn’t sold by June 30 under legislation that Gov. Nikki Haley signed in 2014. The SPA would have an extra 90 days to finalize a deal if it puts the waterfront site under a sales contract before the midyear deadline.

This is the fourth time that a deal to sell the land has fallen through since 2006.

The SPA operated a breakbulk port on the property starting in 1958. The site includes 52 developable acres and deep water on Battery Creek. The site was appraised at $22.5 million in 2013.

The General Assembly previously ordered the Charleston-based maritime agency to sell the waterfront property a decade ago. The original deadline was the end of 2009.

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