Only a block from bustling Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, a forlorn building that resembles an abandoned interstate truck stop sits on two scraggly acres surrounded by a tall, barbed wire-topped fence.
The state Department of Transportation used the Pherigo Street location to maintain vehicles and equipment. Not much happens there anymore, outside of the occasional pile of gravel or sand being dumped temporarily. Or a truck or two might be parked for a while, said Mark Bayne, a shipwright whose Sea Island Boatworks is located across the street.
"They were good neighbors," he said.
On Thursday, the DOT tried to sell the property but the three bidders offered less than the minimum $895,000 the agency wanted, said Jim Sharpe, a right-of-way agent. He will turn the matter over to his boss, who will decide the department's next move.
The Mount Pleasant land is among many state surplus properties available for public purchase. Locally, they include a historic rotting dock and boarded-up warehouse on Sullivan's Island and a dilapidated two-story house in Charleston.
More than 40 surplus properties are listed for sale at the state Budget and
Control Board Division of General Services website. (www.gs.sc.gov/sb-ps/RPS-surplus.phtm). They include fire-tower sites, a ranch style brick home in Greenville and an eight-story dormitory in Greenwood.
The DOT property in Mount Pleasant is located near where Chuck Dawley, Coleman and Ben Sawyer boulevards meet. DOT describes it as an abandoned cinder-block building with vehicle bays and a fueling station. Contrary to what the agency originally thought, there are no underground fuel-storage tanks there now.
The DOT also owns a house in Charleston on Cypress Street. It is a 2,600- square-foot, two-story structure that DOT purchased because it needed the right-of-way for an adjacent interstate overpass. Homeless people have been discovered living inside.
"You find all kinds of (drug) paraphernalia," Sharpe said.
On Friday inside the house, about 20 insulin syringes were piled on a kitchen countertop. Upstairs, a pillow rested on a blanket spread out on a bedroom floor next to athletic shoes. DOT Trade Specialist James Fludd said he chased three or four people from the house when he boarded it up two months ago.
The agency bought the home as part of right-of-way acquisition for the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, he said.
Signs advising the place is for sale have been stolen for scrap metal, Sharpe said.
Sharpe said the DOT can't afford to assign staff to maintain the house, which was littered with trash. "We build roads. We're not policemen," he said.
Willie Marsh III grew up across the street from the house, which he said has been vacant for about 12 years. "It wouldn't surprise me if someone was sleeping in there right now," he said.
Marsh recalled that a longshoreman and his family lived there.
"They were good people," he said.
The DOT owns another house on North Shore Drive on James Island.
"I keep getting vagrants in there, and they've taken all the copper and stuff," Sharpe said.
The Cypress Street house has interested buyers but they are not motivated to pay the $160,000 asking price. Sharpe said he wasn't sure about a sales price for the James Island house, which the buyer would have to move off the property.
"We haven't had a problem getting any other houses sold," he said.
Sharpe said he works to help someone in the community get a good deal while at the same time helping taxpayers get their money back.
Overall, the DOT listed 19 properties for sale at scdot.org including the Cypress Street house, the former Mount Pleasant fleet-maintenance facility and a three-bedroom, two-bath residence in Florence. Land for sale ranged from a tiny $800 parcel in Greenville to 23 acres in Spartanburg County for $435,000.
On Sullivan's Island, a firm hired by the State Budget and Control Board is scheduled to auction the historic quartermaster dock and warehouse on March 21. Bidding starts at $795,000.
The dock is considered a public hazard and has been fenced-off. It is located between modern, well-kept homes and docks. The warehouse is boarded up and posted for no trespassing.
Neighbor Deborah Lofton said she hopes the auction will happen as planned and the property will be sold. Termites and rats have been a problem because of the decaying dock, which a young man fell through while fishing, she said.
"I feel it can't get much worse than it is," Lofton said.
The half-acre site includes a 10,500 square-foot brick warehouse and 13,000 square-foot wharf and dock house on the Intracoastal Waterway. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, which means the structures could not simply be demolished. However, a purchaser who restores the property would be eligible for tax credits, said Macon Lovelace, a Columbia real estate broker who showed the site to potential purchasers on Friday.
"We've had a tremendous amount of interest in it," Lovelace said.
The property has residential zoning. He envisioned the warehouse being converted into three large condominium units with a dock restored for resident use.
The quartermaster dock and pier are located on Thompson Avenue behind Town Hall, which also is vacant because mold in the building was believed to be making town staffers sick. Town Hall has been moved into some trailers down the street while the situation is evaluated.