A large land developer is looking to build a 700-acre industrial park in the western portion of Charleston County and possibly follow up with a 2,000-acre mixed-use development.
WestRock Land and Development - which was known as MWV Community Development and Land Management until MWV merged with RockTenn Co. to create WestRock Co. earlier this summer - has been working for almost nine years on a vision plan for the 72,000 acres of land it owns in the East Edisto area of Charleston and Dorchester counties.
After hosting more than two dozen public meetings, the company decided to preserve 75% of the area as permanently rural by enforcing density restrictions, according to Ken Seeger, president of WestRock Land and Development. The first phase of the development in Dorchester County is called Summers Corner, and construction is underway already.
But the next phase, in Charleston County, is just getting started.
"There's a very limited area of potential development in Charleston County along Highway 17 and adjacent to the towns of Ravenel and Hollywood. That limited development area down there is what we call Spring Grove," Seeger said.
WestRock plans to permanently derestrict about 27,500 acres in Charleston County to low or rural densities. Seegers said rural densities could mean no more than one home per 200 acres, 50 acres or 25 acres depending on location.
"It still has use as recreational property or as agricultural property for growing timber," he said.
The property, which was owned by MWV and now WestRock for almost 100 years, is mostly being used to harvest timber. It was originally purchased to supply trees and fiber for MWV's paper mill plant in North Charleston, which is now owned by KapStone.
About 3,500 acres of the timber property is scheduled for what Seeger called "cluster development." He said 700 of those acres are slated for an economic development area or industrial park to create jobs for people who live in that part of the county.
"We're working with the economic development folks at the state and the county. Many times it's a competitive bid situation," Seeger said. "Once the zoning has been approved, which we hope will be later this year, we'll be in a position to have zoned, industrial land that can be used for economic development."
The industrial park will likely be built along the existing CSX rail line adjacent to the town of Ravenel. The company will begin planning phase one of the park immediately after Charleston County approves rezoning the area for industrial development and agrees to a proposed development agreement.
A special planning commission meeting will be help September 28, and a public hearing will take place the following day. Charleston County Council will likely review the proposed Spring Grove development in October and November.
"How fast that (industrial park) will move forward will depend upon a number of prospects that the county and the state and we are able to find," Seeger.
In addition to the industrial park, WestRock is planning to keep about 800 acres wetlands and build a mixed-use development on the remaining 2,000 acres. It will likely include retail, commercial and residential space similar to what is being built at Summers Corner, Seeger said. It could take 50 years to build out.
"As far as the residential and mixed-use, I think that will be market-driven. We don't have immediate plans to start construction of that part of the project," he said. "I would say it's more likely to be in the three-to-six-year range before we would start anything, and I think a lot of it will literally depend on whether we think the market is ready for it."