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