A Jackson, Mississippi-based timber investment management organization recently announced plans to sell thousands of acres of investment-grade timberland and real estate across the nation's Southeast region, including more than 14,000 acres in Brunswick County.
The Molpus Woodlands Group, the company marketing the sale, said in a news release Wednesday that the timberland and real estate offering can be purchased in its entirety or in smaller portions.
“This offering has broad appeal as it allows a buyer to continue to manage the timberlands or to pursue attractive conservation and development opportunities,” Bob Lyle, president of Molpus Woodlands Group, said in the release.
The land is located about 3 miles west of Leland, just south of U.S. 74 and north of Bolivia. The timberlands are part of 15,300 acres total planned for sale in North Carolina, including about 1,100 in Robeson County.
The timberlands have been traditionally managed as commercial forests and have been certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. But according to the investment group, their proximity to major metro areas “creates possible sources of revenue from real estate, development, recreation and conservation partnerships.”
Mike Hargett, economic development and planning director for Brunswick County, said planners met with an appraiser from the group early this week to discuss options available under the county’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).
Hargett said under the UDO, there is a lot of flexibility for a planned development on a piece of property that size, which could have a wide range of potential uses should a buyer decide to seek development. At this point, however, Hargett said the group is obtaining preliminary information “in order to evaluate options for the future of the property.”
Officials stated in the release that opportunities for commercial and residential development, conservation easements and sales of recreational land also increase the value of the property.
The Brunswick County land is the largest tract out of the group's recently announced offerings, which also include 4,800 acres in Georgia, 12,300 acres in Alabama, and 13,400 acres in Mississippi.
According to Brunswick County property tax records, the offering encompasses 26 parcels totaling 14,553 acres owned by a Molpus Woodlands Group limited liability company, Seven States Timberlands. (See map at left, taken from the county's GIS Online Data View)
Parts of the timberlands have significant conservation value, Camilla Herlevich, executive director of the N.C. Coastal Land Trust, said when asked about the property Thursday.
The property “has been on our radar for quite some time,” she said. But it is difficult for the Coastal Land Trust to get funding for such a large parcel of land, especially when it comes online so quickly, Herlevich said. Smaller parcels would also be easier to conserve. The agency will continue to watch what happens with the property, she added.
The property is also being marketed for its original use. The North Carolina timber market provides a “favorable business environment for timberland investors, with a well-developed infrastructure of wood-processing facilities,” according to the release.
Currently, there are 27 wood-consuming mills in southeastern North Carolina, including 13 sawmilling facilities, three plywood facilities, two pole mills, one Port Chip facility and eight pulp mills, according to officials with the group. Major area consumers of wood products are Georgia Pacific, West Fraser, Canfor, International Paper Company, WestRock and Weyerhaeuser, Molpus officials said.
North Carolina’s forest products industry contributes $18.5 billion to the state's economy, with the majority of the timber harvest coming from private and industrial lands, according to Molpus Woodlands Group.
Mark Power Jr., real estate director for Molpus Woodlands Group, said first round bids for the property are due Aug. 25. The investment group will then select from those bids and bidders may be invited for property tours. Second round bids will be due Oct. 20 with selection on or about Oct. 27, he said.
Molpus Woodlands Group, a Registered Investment Advisor that was founded in 1996 as a Timber Investment Management Organization, currently manages more than 2.1 million acres of timberland investments in 18 states.