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Inland Port price tag is nearing $50 million

Design beyond 90 percent complete; Nordic challenging eminent domain

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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Rail cars are lined up at the Inland Port in Greer with rails to be used for new tracks to accommodate a separate spur into the port and 4 sections of track on each side of the facility for storage.

Rail cars are lined up at the Inland Port in Greer with rails to be used for new tracks to accommodate a separate spur into the port and 4 sections of track on each side of the facility for storage.

The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) board of directors today approved an additional $12.9 million to pay its share of the escalating cost of the Inland Port at Greer, now estimated as high as $47.4 million.

The SCSPA share will top out at $39.9 million while Norfolk Southern’s cost remains fixed at $7.5 million. The design for the inland port is beyond 90 percent completion.

Original costs, before the engineering study last summer, were estimated at $27 million.

Stuck in the middle of the increasing costs is $900,000 for eminent domain for Nordic Cold Storage, a 40,000 square foot warehouse, situated on three acres. “We’ve taken action of condemnation and Nordic is opposing,” said Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority. Newsome conducted a teleconference call with Upstate media to discuss the inland port’s progress.

“We’re disappointed with (eminent domain) and we really hope that we can resolve this with Nordic. As we expanded the size of the (inland port) we looked at the idea of them on the facility, but we reached the conclusion it didn’t work,” Newsome said. The Port Authority initiated eminent domain to condemn the remaining years on a lease with Nordic.

Grading and infrastructure continues at the port, located between Highway 290 and J. Verne Smith Parkway (Hwy. 80). The port is adjacent to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Norfolk Southern has brought in rails to be laid for a half-mile inner loop and 5,200 feet of tracks for storage. Nordic is the only structure remaining.

Demolition of 26 houses on Moore Street is scheduled to begin May 1. Residents have until April 30 to salvage contents and materials. The rail line will be extended from the inland port along Moore Street, stopping at 6th Street.

“We don’t want to be slowed down and we need to get moving and hope interruptions are minimal,” Newsome said. “This is a critical project for our state and we don’t want any delays. We had the property for 30 years and we need to move forward.”

Newsome told the board drivers of the cost growth were capacity and long-term expansion of the original plan, site topography, acquisition of Moore Street property, additional land purchase required by GSP and the speed of delivery – still Sept. 1. “The typography is very challenging as far as the egress and ingress of the port is concerned. We also had to slide in and acquire 24 properties. We now have twice as much capacity as we originally envisioned.”

Newsome said the SPA has entered into a separate agreement with CenterPoint, developer and construction manager, and is negotiating with Ragnar Benson, as general contractor. That differs from CenterPoint selecting and partnering with Ragnar Benson. The contract requires all large components of construction to be competitively bid. The proposed contract is cost plus 3.5 percent not to exceed $32 million.

“This has been a fast moving project for all of this,” Newsome said. “We started pursuing the idea in January, 2012. We now have an idea what the final cost of the project will be.”

The opening date remains intact, for now. “I’m still confident of the September 1 opening,” Newsome said. “Cautiously optimistic.”

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