S.C. State Ports Authority approves sale of Port Royal property

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published July 19, 2011

The S.C. State Ports Authority passed a resolution to sell its property in Port Royal for $17 million during its board meeting Tuesday.

Port Royal Mayor Samuel Murray said he hopes the sale will revitalize the city and bring a new mix of residential and commercial development.

The sale includes nearly 52 acres of land and 265 acres of marsh at the ports authority’s former terminal near Ribaut Road.

In 2004, the General Assembly enacted a bill that directed the ports authority to stop operating the Port Royal terminal and to sell the property. Port Royal Town Administrator Van Willis said too few ships were calling on the terminal for it to continue operating.

In June 2007, the ports authority began accepting offers for the property and received an offer of $17 million from a potential buyer who signed a letter of intent in late April.

With the resolution approved, the property sale goes to the S.C. Budget and Control Board, which also must approve it, according to a statement released by the ports authority. If the Budget and Control Board approves, the sale will go through due diligence and inspections before being finalized.

State law allows details about the sale — including the letter of intent, the purchase agreement and sale terms — to remain confidential, according to the port’s statement.

Also during its meeting, the board approved $3.8 million in contracts to upgrade the Port of Charleston’s operating system and infrastructure to support the system, which will automate container tracking at the port and will free workers from manually entering data.

“This is basically the brains of the terminal,” said Jim Newsome, the CEO of the ports authority. “This is how a terminal runs. It’s the Office 2012 or whatever the software is.”

The contract includes about $1.9 million for upgrading equipment and software and another $1.9 million for the construction component of the project.

The upgrades will automate the gate, yard and crane processes with differential GPS technology. Monitoring stations will be mounted on poles at the terminals, and the stations will track each container’s movement throughout the yard. The automation can increase container density and capacity, while staying relevant if the port’s container traffic increases.

Newsome said, “This automation supports enhanced volumes over a 20-year time frame.”

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