Beau­fort’s Com­merce Park may be get­ting a new ten­ant soon

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY CAITLIN TURNER [email protected]­land­

When the city spent $1.85 mil­lion in 2012 to buy the Beau­fort Com­merce Park, it hoped to at­tract new busi­nesses to the 168-acre site that would pro­vide jobs and beef up the tax base.

Six years later, only a hand­ful of com­pa­nies call the park home.

That may be chang­ing, though, with a pro­posal to build a 50,000-square-foot spec build­ing at the site off U.S. 21.

The Beau­fort County Eco­nomic Cor­po­ra­tion put out a re­quest for bids to build on the land in Au­gust with a dead­line for pro­pos­als in early Oc­to­ber.

A plan from the Samet Corp., a Charleston-based builder, is now be­ing con­sid­ered for the build­ing and a pos­si­ble ad­di­tional spec build­ing at the site, ac­cord­ing to John O’Toole, di­rec­tor of the county’s eco­nomic cor­po­ra­tion.

“We want to have build­ings ready to go (for prospec­tive com­pa­nies),” O’Toole said this week. “The S.C. Depart­ment of Com­merce is work­ing around the clock to gen­er­ate in­ter­est in the state. So when peo­ple de­cide to in­vest in South Carolina, they want the prop­erty to be ready to go or they might leave.”

The city lost out on a bid from Evanesce Pack­ag­ing So­lu­tions last month when the park did not have a build­ing avail­able,

ac­cord­ing to City Coun­cil­man Stephen Mur­ray, who chairs the city’s eco­nomic cor­po­ra­tion. The com­pany would have in­vested $ 70 mil­lion into the project and cre­ated 368 new jobs over the next five years.

In­stead, that money, and the jobs, went to Col­leton County, where fa­cil­i­ties were al­ready ready.

“We’ve lost a cou­ple of projects be­cause we haven’t had a build­ing avail­able,” Mur­ray said Fri­day.

The goal is to at­tract en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly busi­nesses and cre­ate jobs in the county. O’Toole said busi­nesses be­ing con­sid­ered for the spot in­clude light man­u­fac­tur­ers and aero­space com­pa­nies.

“We are fairly con­fi­dent that we will be able to fill that space quickly,” he said.

If the Samet Corp. were to build on the 8-acre par­cel on the site, it would be re­spon­si­ble for find­ing a ten­ant, O’Toole said.

The sale of the build­ing could bring the city as much as $30,000 per acre, O’Toole said.

Last year, the city posted an an­nounce­ment that the park is for sale on a first-come ba­sis, “pend­ing price and eco­nomic im­pact.”

City man­ager Bill Prokop said then that the sale did not mean the city planned to un­load the en­tire prop­erty. Rather, it planned to sell parcels to fit what prospec­tive busi­nesses wanted. A call to Prokop on Fri­day for com­ment was not re­turned.

Oliver’s Bush-Hog­ging; Oliver’s Clean Burn; SCE&G, Dust So­lu­tions; Bluffton Con­crete; Low­coun­try Con­crete; and TST En­ter­prise oc­cupy a few parcels of the prop­erty. The city still owes $315,000 to pay off the land, Mur­ray said.

The city has worked to make the prop­erty more at­trac­tive by paving roads on the site, in­stalling fiber op­tic lines to im­prove broad­band con­nec­tion and in­stalling light­ing, Mur­ray said.

O’Toole said main is- sues in suc­cess­fully ad­ver­tis­ing the land have been con­sis­tent mar­ket­ing and state aware­ness of the site.

“Beau­fort County and the city of Beau­fort didn’t have a con­sis­tent ef­fort of mar­ket­ing it,” O’Toole said. “It was just by chance that some­one might come across that prop­erty. ... To­day we are closely tied to the mar­ket­ing ef­forts with the state.”

O’Toole ex­pects to bring Samet’s pro­posal be­fore Beau­fort Town Coun­cil and county coun­cil next month.

If ap­proved, con­struc­tion could be­gin to­ward the end of next year’s first quar­ter.

Samet Cor­po­ra­tion/Beau­fort County Eco­nomic Cor­po­ra­tion

Plans for a 50,000-square-foot build­ing to be built in Beau­fort’s Com­merce Park are ex­pected to go be­fore town coun­cil next month. The fa­cil­ity could po­ten­tially be home to com­pa­nies in the light­ing or aero­space fields and bring jobs to the county.

Beau­fort County Eco­nomic Cor­po­ra­tion

A 50,000 square-foot build­ing could be built on lot 20 of Beau­fort’s Com­merce Park. The spec build­ing would be meant to at­tract busi­nesses to the park and boost jobs in the county.

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