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Battle lines emerging over potential sale of coastal property

Those looking to develop either residential or commercial real estate along the Atlantic coastline here in South Carolina may be in for something of a surprise. That's because there is relatively little undeveloped land for sale in some coastal areas, while in other coastal areas the undeveloped land for sale can prove to be quite expensive.

Interestingly, one of the last remaining parcels of undeveloped coastal real estate in the area near Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach -- a resort area just south of Myrtle Beach -- is now available for sale.

Specifically, the University of South Carolina Development Foundation has recently announced that its famed Prince George tract in Georgetown County, which consists of roughly 1,200 acres of undeveloped coastal property, is "available for sale" in the event that a prospective developer presents the right proposal and the right price.

Not surprisingly, the proposed sale of the Prince George tract has many area environmental groups up in arms, claiming that USC is going back on its promise to preserve the area's natural wetlands, as well as the endangered species that call it home.

For their part, the USC foundation is arguing that their organization has to explore all possible opportunities to raise money as the university is continuing to feel the strain of state budget cuts.

"We need more money for scholarships, more money for fellowships, more money for research space, and that's the business of the foundation," said a USC foundation spokesperson. "We try to provide that money."

The foundation has indicated that is not looking to sell the land to any buyer wanting to develop the area as completely as possible, but rather to a buyer wanting to build high-end homes on larger lots, much like has already taken place in surrounding areas.

This is of little consolation to the environmental groups, however, who have already vowed to fight any proposed sale. In fact, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League has already discussed a proposed sale with attorneys and has expressed its intention to go to court if necessary.

Given the fact that a proposed sale of the Prince George tract could potentially net millions of dollars for the USC foundation, there is a very good chance that this is exactly what will happen.

Stay tuned for developments ...

If you or your organization are contemplating the purchase of commercial real estate, you should strongly consider speaking with experienced legal professionals who can handle the full details of your transaction while protecting your interests and rights.

Source: The State, "University of South Carolina foundation looks to sell prime coastal land," Sammy Fretwell, September 21, 2013

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