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Boeing Co. looking to purchase 320 acres of airport land


The Boeing Co. is interested in hundreds of acres of land owned by the Charleston County Aviation Authority. (Photo/Lauren Ratcliffe)The Boeing Co. is interested in hundreds of acres of land owned by the Charleston County Aviation Authority. (Photo/Lauren Ratcliffe)

By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published Dec. 20, 2012

The Boeing Co. began negotiations this morning to more than double the company’s footprint in North Charleston by purchasing hundreds of acres from the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

After a Boeing presentation, the aviation authority board approved a resolution to begin the negotiations for the land acquisitions. The deal would include land purchases of 320 acres of airport property, rights of first refusal for an additional 488 acres and a purchase option in 2025 for Boeing South Carolina’s main campus, which is 265 acres.

Boeing’s land purchase plans

Boeing’s land purchase plans

The purchases include land under the former SCRA office buildings, which Boeing purchased earlier this month. SCRA was leasing the land from the aviation authority.

“The discussions so far up to this point have been: ‘Would you consider selling?’” said Rick Muttart, director of the aerospace giant’s Site Services Group. “And the decision today is: ‘Yes, we would consider selling these parcels,’ and now we’ve got to work through the process to get to a price point that we all agree on.”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who is an aviation authority board member, said the agreement is “excellent news for (the) region.”

“(It’s) a wonderful chance to continue having Boeing’s presence here, but possibly further economic development in the future,” Riley said.

State Rep. Chip Limehouse, chairman of the aviation authority, thanked the airport’s staff, Boeing employees and Michael Luttig, general counsel and executive vice president for Boeing, for their roles. Luttig attended the aviation authority board meeting today.

“Everybody at this table needs to be pleased with what we’ve done here today,” Limehouse said. “The partnership with Boeing is ironclad. We’re pleased to be selling some of our property here today.”

The aviation authority resolution allows negotiations to begin. Boeing is awaiting the airport’s appraisal of the five tracts, and once the company gets that appraisal, the groups have 30 days to agree to a price, said Mark Fava, chief counsel for Boeing South Carolina.

“We’ve obligated ourselves to the specific tracts that they would be willing to price point with us for a sale,” Fava said. “(And) we start to look to see if we can reach an agreement based on those.”

After the initial 30 days, the two parties can order another round of appraisals, and if needed, they can call for a third round by independent appraisers. Once and if they reach an agreement, then the aviation authority must present the plans to the Federal Aviation Administration, which will have to approve the sale.

“They will evaluate the deal based on fair market value and airport growth plans,” Fava said. “There have been cases before when airports have been a little bit aggressive in giving property away.”

Fava said the company would begin the permitting process as soon as possible after the potential sale closes.

“We’re committed long term to the Lowcountry,” Muttart said. “What we’ve got to do is be able to protect our potential needs for future growth. We don’t have any specific plans, but this positions us well should we make some decisions to expand.”

Reach Matt Tomsic at 843-849-3144.

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