A transportation company based in Wilmington wants to buy 12 acres in the Blue Clay Road Business Park, along with obtaining a five-year option to buy an additional 29 acres, from New Hanover County, according to county documents.
On Thursday morning, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners' agenda for its meeting Monday included an item describing a purchase offer from MCO Transport Inc.
The item said Wilmington Business Development and county staff were recommending the board accept a $450,000 offer from Buena Vista Sun LLC, an affiliate of MCO Transport Inc., for 12 acres in the 120-acre park. The officials also recommended the commissioners agree to the option on the 29 acres. If the sales were to go through, the total purchase price could end up being a little over $1.5 million.
MCO Transport Inc. officials declined to comment on the agenda information Thursday morning. But an email to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal from Laurie King of MCO Transport on Thursday afternoon stated, "Thanks to your breaking news alert, we are requesting this be pulled from the agenda."
King did not reply to an email seeking more information about why the news alert led to MCO Transport's removal request.
Commissioners were notified of the company's wish to take the item off the agenda at their agenda review meeting Thursday afternoon, said Jessica Loeper, county spokesperson, in an email.
The agenda documents had delved more into the details of the potential sale.
"This property, along with the optioned property, is subject to the covenants placed on the business park property including limitations on the beginning and completion of construction of the improvements to the property. The offer price for this property, including the optioned property, is $37,500 per acre," according to the agenda documents. "Staff is recommending that this offer be noticed to begin an upset bid process. Through the upset bid process, the offeror will be required to deposit 5% of the bid with the clerk, or $22,500, when the offer is accepted by the Board."
The agenda item documents explained that once the notice has been published, anyone can raise the bid by not less than 10% of the first $1,000 and 5% of the remainder.
"When no further qualifying bids are received, staff is requesting that the Board delegate the authority to accept the offer and sell to the highest bidder to the county manager," according to the agenda item.
New Hanover County purchased about 100 acres next to the New Hanover County Detention Facility in 2008 for $5.3 million, according to a previous Greater Wilmington Business Journal article
. "Initially, the land was set aside in case the facility would need to expand, but around 2017
, with jail populations in check, the county started to explore its private market potential," the article stated.
Loeper had said in an email Thursday, before the request for the agenda item to be pulled was made, that MCO Transport would be the first occupant for the park. She said the county is in the process of completing the park’s infrastructure, including water, sewer and access roads, and that project is expected to be finished in early 2023.
Founded in 1976, MCO Transport has terminals in Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia. According to MCO's website, the company specializes in warehousing services and transportation solutions that include container drayage, domestic truckload and specialized commodities and equipment.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect new information from the county and MCO Transport Inc.