Boeing to buy 300 acres, option to buy more

Boeing deal adds about 700 acres to its existing site. Company will buy land it currently leases in 2025. (Stacy Jacobson/WCIV)

By Stacy

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Boeing South Carolina officials said the company is ready to greatly increase its footprint on the Lowcountry.

Boeing made a presentation to the Charleston County Aviation Authority Thursday morning regarding the expansion.

The meeting was open to the public, but almost as soon as it started, the meeting went into executive session regarding a contract for an economic development project.

The executive session finally ended around 11:20 a.m. Boeing representatives said their proposal was one "that we've been working on for many months." The plan includes Boeing's purchase of{}320 acres of land around the Charleston International Airport, with the right of first refusal for an additional 488 acres. Airport officials said Boeing would have the right to that land.

The Aviation Authority unanimously passed the proposal. Mayor Joe Riley called it "excellent news for our region," giving the community "a chance for further economic development."

Aviation Authority Chairman Chip Limehouse said the sale took two years to prepare. He praised the deal and said it will bolster the economic health of the region.

"What it means is jobs, jobs and more jobs for the Charleston area," Limehouse said.

This is a continuing trend for Boeing. The aerospace giant recently announced plans to purchase three buildings from the South Carolina Research Authority adjacent to its North Charleston facility.

Boeing has also requested to buy the 265 acres it currently leases from the Charleston airport. That purchase would be made in 2025.

"We're moving forward to protect the ability to grow," said Rick Muttart, Director of Site Services at{}Boeing South Carolina.

Boeing representatives said they do not know the plans for the land yet as land assessments still need to be done. They also do not yet know the estimated cost.

"They've assured us they're not buying this property to land bank it. They've assured us they're in the business of making airplanes," Limehouse said.

Boeing officials re-affirmed their strong relationship with South Carolina.

"It really speaks loudly to the commitment the state has made to us, and in reverse, the commitment Boeing is willing to make to the state," Boeing South Carolina's Mark Fava said.

Aviation Authority Chairman Chip Limehouse said the appraisals will be done in the next 30 days and they could have an estimate of the cost as soon as the appraisals are done.

"South Carolina is open for business. Boeing is here. They've tripled down their commitment here today. This is the Christmas present for South Carolina we've been waiting for," Limehouse said.

Boeing will still have a set of permits to attain before construction can start. There is no timetable for construction yet.