A Middle Eastern development company that purchased about 1,300 acres of land near Santee seven years ago for a mega industrial park is seeking to sell the property.
Jafza South Carolina LLC is selling the Jafza Magna Park-Santee for $17.5 million, according to Charlotte-based real estate company Lincoln Harris.
An acre is selling for $13,275.
Gregg Robinson, Orangeburg County Development Commission executive director, said the sale does not mean Jafza is pulling out of the project or is not committed to the county.
“Everything is moving forward,” Robinson said. “The commitment from Jafza is still there. They are very much interested in coming back over and reengaging the project. They are bullish on the property and bullish on the North American footprint.”
Robinson said as a development company, Jafza has always had the intention to sell. The park is also being advertised on the OCDC website.
Mike Ferrer, Lincoln Harris vice president of industrial and office brokerage, said the property has been up for sale for the past three years. It has been listed with Lincoln Harris for the past year, he said.
Ferrer said it was his understanding the company would either sell the entire property or seek to participate in a portion of the development.
“They will do what they deem is in their best interest,” he said.
Robinson said Jafza is still actively engaged in the site and is planning a visit to the area in the next two months. He said company executives visited Orangeburg in December.
The OCDC executive director said it is no surprise that the global economic downturn has negatively impacted the project.
“It is taking longer than anyone anticipated,” he said.
Robinson said the intent was always to put the property up for sale as Jafza would be the developer of the property.
“They are not going to parcel off and are not going to carve up the property and mess up the entire tract,” he said. “They want it to go industrial.”
The OCDC has shown the property at least six times over the last few months and continues to receive interest, Robinson said.
He said the park is an ideal piece of property that already has water and wastewater infrastructure and roads.
In addition, the interchange at U.S. 301/Interstate 95 is being improved to better handle truck traffic. The S.C. Department of Transportation will manage the $26.4 million project. Thus far, the SCDOT has conducted soil testing and acquired the needed rights-of-way.
Robinson said he expects significant work, including the clearing of trees, within the first quarter of this year. The project is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.
In addition to the land, the former Jafza North American headquarters’ 16,000-square-foot property is also available for lease.
Lincoln Harris continues to tout the site as ‘build-to-suit’ and situated within the Southeast Global Logistics Triangle. The company is also promoting the property’s equal distance from Miami and New York City and its proximity to the ports of Charleston and Savannah, along with CSX Rail access.
“The site can be subdivided, but the sellers would prefer to sell the project in its entirety,” according to the listing.
The site would be developed based on market demand. Heavy infrastructure and land preparation are being accommodated for Phase 1’s approximately 385 acres.
The sale listing says Jafza can offer warehouse and distribution units of various sizes, light manufacturing units, serviced land plots (electricity, water, waste facilities), commercial office space, leased industrial units, supporting commercial facilities (public amenities, security, 24-hour fire protection, etc).
Jafza, a subsidiary of Dubai World, in 2007 announced its plans to invest up to $700 million and create close to 10,000 jobs in Orangeburg County by 2017. But three months after the company made its announcement, the global economy fell into a recession.
In the fall of 2009, the company issued a revised plan for its development, noting it would focus on warehousing and distribution, light manufacturing and office space, covering 200 acres of the 1,324 acres.
At that time, Jafza also had expressed an interest in cutting back on its international projects in an attempt to focus more on its domestic projects. That same year, Dubai World also began efforts to restructure about $25 billion in debt.
There is currently one building on the Jafza site — the $1 million, 16,000-square-foot Jafza Enterprise Center, which was built on five acres bordering I-95.
Timmonsville-based Palmetto Training Inc., which offers commercial driver’s license training, employed two people. The company, however, is no longer operational, and the building is up for lease.
Last year, Dubai World sold Gazeley, its project development partner.
Dubai World bought Gazeley, which develops logistics parks and warehouses around the world, for between $450 million and $600 million in 2008.
Gazeley was going to partner with the company in the development of the Santee park.
Clint Murphy, former Jafza USA vice president of engineering and operations, said Jafza closed its South Carolina headquarters in 2011. Murphy’s last day was December 2011. He now works for the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Despite the challenges, Murphy said the property speaks for itself and can still be successful.
“I still believe in the property,” he said, citing interstate, rail and Port of Charleston proximity. “It is an excellent piece of property. The utilities are there and they are moving forward on the interchange. There is strong potential to develop.”
Murphy says should Jafza not be the prime developer, he is confident there are other investors capable of making the property a first-class development.
“Things are picking up now and companies are starting to expand,” he said. “Expansion plans were on the back burner, but money is starting to move now and companies are starting to dust off those plans.”
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Contact the writer: 803-533-5551