Surprise properties face tax sale

Charleston Bankruptcy Court at 145 King Street. Staff photo.

It may sound ironic, but a Charleston office building that’s home to government offices including U.S. Bankruptcy Court is listed for Charleston County’s upcoming delinquent tax sale.

So is a building on the former Navy base in North Charleston, where tenants of the Noisette Co. include the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.

The properties are among nearly 3,500 that are listed for the annual tax sale, and the owners of all those properties collectively owe more than $8.6 million in property taxes to local governments, the county, public schools and others.

The Noisette Co., a leader of North Charleston’s effort to redevelop the old Navy base, is among the largest debtors with more than a quarter-million dollars overdue.

“We fully anticipate that the taxes will be paid before the tax sale date,” said Jeff Baxter, director of development at The Noisette Co. LLC. “It was really a business decision.”

Indeed, more than two-thirds of the properties initially listed for the annual tax sale typically have their taxes up to date by the deadline, which is Nov. 2 this year. And most properties that go to tax sale don’t actually change ownership, because the owners still have another year to pay the taxes, plus substantial financial penalties.

North Charleston spokesman Ryan Johnson said the city isn’t concerned about Noisette.

“The city continues to have a major interest in the development of the former Navy base, but I don’t think there is much to make of this tax sale notice,” he said.

Developers sometimes allow property tax bills to become delinquent as a cash flow management technique, paying them only when the threat of a tax sale looms. There are costs, however, because a 15 percent penalty is levied on overdue taxes.

In the city of Charleston, one of the largest single property tax debts is associated with 145 King St., an office building at King and Queen streets where the city and federal governments rent office space.

Tenants include Charleston’s Department of Budget, Finance and Revenue Collections.

A woman who answered the phone at the offices of the building owner, King & Queen Co., said it would not discuss the overdue taxes.

Charleston County’s delinquent tax sale will be held Nov. 5 at 4045 Bridge View Drive, North Charleston. Tax sale bidders are attracted by the potential of getting large interest payments from property owners who allow their properties to go to sale and later reclaim them.