Busted SC real estate deal works to utility Santee Cooper’s advantage
A business deal that fell apart wound up helping state-owned electric and water utility Santee Cooper more than double its money.
The utility plans to sell 64.5 acres at its Camp Hall Commerce Park for $16.12 million to a cold-storage warehouse developer.
That’s more than twice the $7.6 million Santee Cooper would have gotten from a previous buyer — FC Partners LLC — that proposed building the same type of warehouse at the industrial park off U.S. Interstate 26 a little more than a year ago.
The would-be purchaser never went through with the deal and the property, known as Campus 6, went back on the market.
So, instead of getting roughly $118,000 per acre, Santee Cooper will net about $250,000.
“Somebody made a good deal,” state Sen. Harvey Peeler quipped during a June 20 meeting of the S.C. Joint Bond Review Committee.
“If we put it off another year or two, could we double it again?” another member of the legislative panel joked.
The Peeler-led committee, which reviews major financial transactions proposed by Santee Cooper and other state agencies, last week approved the sale to Swamp Fox Cold LLC, which plans to invest $250 million in as much as 700,000 square feet of meat refrigeration and freezer space.
Plans filed with the state show four buildings and a pair of offices.
Santee Cooper said it will spend about $6 million on roads, water and sewer and other infrastructure. The improvements will benefit the entire Camp Hall development.
Cold-storage warehouses have become a hot commodity in recent years, with the Port of Charleston focusing on meat and vegetable imports and exports as a way to diversify cargo that in the past has been mostly dependent on the manufacturing industry.
More than 146,000 20-foot containers of agricultural products and food moved through the port’s terminals last year.
The State Ports Authority has spent more than $20 million on upgrades to its refrigerated container services to fuel growth in cold-storage cargo, and that’s led to the development of several warehouses in the area specializing in handling frozen meats, seafood and vegetables.
Santee Cooper took control of the 6,800-acre Camp Hall property in 2015, when Volvo Cars announced it would build its only U.S. manufacturing campus at the site.
The Moncks Corner-based water and power provider has sold all but about 10 percent of the 1,300 acres of industrial land that Volvo didn’t need for its operations, including a 607-acre parcel to Carson City, Nev.-based battery recycler Redwood Materials.
Other parcels have been sold to developers of warehouses, logistics firms and other cold-storage facilities for port customers like Maersk Line.