Donald Trump and South Carolina crossed paths at least twice last week.
As president, he delivered a tidy boost to Nucor and a few other employers with big Palmetto State plants Thursday with his plan to impose stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
A few days earlier, as billionaire developer, he severed his only known business connection in this neck of the woods.
It involved real estate, naturally, but not the sort of glitzy, high-profile venture typically associated with a Trump-branded hotel or condominium project.
Not by a long shot.
Trump's sole investment in South Carolina, according to a 2015 campaign disclosure, was his pre-presidency purchase of a delinquent bank loan. The collateral securing the eight-figure debt was a vacant warehouse with a leaky roof in a gritty industrial area of North Charleston.
Trump hinted at the art of this deal publicly while visiting the Lowcountry as a candidate in April 2015, saying he had “invested in something” in the area.
“I’ll announce it at the appropriate time,” Trump said at the time. “It’s very interesting.”
He was right on that point, though he never did come through with the announcement.
Trump's foray into the South Carolina commercial real estate market began with a company that counted Donald Trump Jr. among its primary backers. It was called Titan Atlas Manufacturing, and it made prefabricated construction panels for builders of low-cost housing.
Titan paid $1.5 million in 2010 for a former Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant in Stark Industrial Park, where it set up shop. But the Pace Street business didn't last long. It shut down about two years later, leaving a trail of litigation, unpaid bills and irate investors in its wake.
One of the company's biggest creditors was Germany's Deutsche Bank, which was seeking to recoup more than $3 million it had loaned Titan. That put Trump Jr. and his co-investors in a bind, as they had each personally guaranteed to repay the money.
The future president intervened in 2014 to engineer a bailout. He set up a South Carolina firm called D B Pace Acquisition that negotiated a deal with Deutsche Bank, a longtime financier of Trump projects, to buy the soured loan for an undisclosed sum. The delinquent borrowers were suddenly off the hook, without recourse.
D B Pace eventually foreclosed on the property and took title to it about two years ago.
"The move kept the warehouse in family hands and beyond the reach of creditors," the Washington Post noted in a February 2017 report about Trump Jr.'s involvement in the failed Titan Atlas venture.
The now-empty building went back on the market last year. D B Pace said it was seeking to sell it to end a legal dispute with a former tenant that alleged merchandise it had stored inside the leaky building after Titan closed was destroyed by water damage.
“The sale of this property is critical to the resolution of this case as it will provide the necessary liquid assets to be used for settlement purposes,” a lawyer for D B Pace wrote in an October court filing.
That lawsuit was dismissed in January. The settlement terms were not disclosed. The Trump Organization in New York did not respond to a request for comment last week.
Trump didn't have to look far to find a buyer for his Pace Street property.
In a circular chain of circumstances, the purchaser was Jeremy Blackburn, one of the main investors in Titan Atlas and a longtime associate of Trump Jr.
"I am obviously very familiar with the property and building," Blackburn said Wednesday in a written statement. "The previous owner listed the building for lease or sale for a long period with a local broker.
"When those efforts on the open market were unsuccessful I approached the owner about the building and we consummated a purchase and sale transaction last week," he continued. "Our immediate plans are to address some of the deferred maintenance and care such as the roof, lighting, and other upgrades."
He then intends to resell the property.
Blackburn said he is the sole member of Industrial Holdings LLC, which paid D B Pace $4.1 million, land records show.
The deed was recorded with Charleston County on Monday, signed by Donald Trump Jr.