Ports authority begins condemnation on Greer site

By Matt Tomsic and Liz Segrist
Published March 12, 2013

The S.C. State Ports Authority has begun condemnation proceedings against a lease held by a cold storage facility located on property needed for the S.C. Inland Port.

“As the plans rolled out, it became clearer and clearer that (the) facility needed to be moved,” said Jim Newsome, CEO of the ports authority, adding negotiations between the facility’s owners and the ports authority have stalled. “We looked at alternatives, and we’ll continue to work with them.”

The S.C. State Ports Authority has begun condemnation proceedings against a lease held by a cold storage facility located on property needed for the S.C. Inland Port, above. (Photo/Matt Tomsic)
The S.C. State Ports Authority has begun condemnation proceedings against a lease held by a cold storage facility located on property needed for the S.C. Inland Port, above. (Photo/Matt Tomsic)
The ports authority board voted unanimously to begin the condemnation process Tuesday against Atlanta-based Nordic Cold Storage, which began a 40-year lease with the ports authority in 1983. Eleven years remain on the lease, and once it expires, the property reverts back to the ports authority.

The ports authority said it began working with Nordic to find a replacement facility and buy out the remaining years of its lease in November, when the design process began showing a need to demolish Nordic’s facility and another port-owned facility on the property.

Newsome said they offered Nordic a little more than the $900,000 appraised value of lease.

“They have not found that to be a reasonable offer at this stage,” Newsome said. “We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got a tight timeframe to complete the facility.”

Nordic, which freeze blasts and exports poultry products, has run its Greer operations at 996 E. Poinsett St. Extension for around 15 years. Nordic currently has six full-time employees at its Greer location, as well as temp workers.

Nordic owns the building and learned of the condemnation about a month ago, said Linda Lathrop, Nordic’s office manager.

“We’re looking for a new space, but it’s not that easy to find a large enough space equipped with what we need. It’s a time consuming process,” Lathrop said. “This inland port has been planned since last year. We talked to them in August and September, and no one said anything, and all of a sudden we’re supposed to move.”

Ports staff said eminent domain actions vary and weren’t sure how long the condemnation might take.

“We’ve got to bring trains into that facility and have (crane) runs,” Newsome said. “It’s a pretty tight space.”

The inland port will link docks in Charleston to the Upstate through an overnight train service operated by Norfolk Southern. It will have slots for about 550 shipping containers, and the development will sit on about 40 acres. Nordic’s facility is on about 3 acres.

The ports authority announced the $25 million project in July, and Newsome said he first received interest in the development from Norfolk Southern in January 2012. It has the potential to take 40,000 trucks off the highway, the ports authority has said, and at its opening, the inland port will take about 25,000 trucks off state roads. Newsome has said customers like BMW, Michelin and Adidas could use the facility, and during the groundbreaking, he added BMW would be the anchor tenant.

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