Campaign to Save Morris Island Nears Completion (SC)

CHARLESTON, SC 5/16/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced that its campaign to place Morris Island into public protection and ownership is slated to be completed by late May, thanks to an unprecedented public/private partnership between the landowner, numerous municipalities and conservation groups, and generous individuals who contributed to the campaign.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley said: “Today we are announcing an extraordinary outcome: public and private interests joining forces to purchase Morris Island from Ginn Resorts. This outcome would not have been possible without Ginn Resorts’ generosity and commitment to bettering the community.”

In late May, the City of Charleston will become the owner of Morris Island. The island is being purchased for $3.0 million, a price $1.5 million below the original price agreed to by Ginn Resorts. In addition, the closing will occur with a deed restriction on the property that forever prohibits development on the island.

After the City closes on the transaction, Mayor Riley and the city’s planning staff will work with the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) to build on the planning process that seeks to balance fair public access and resource protection.

In February 2006, Ginn Resorts, a Florida-based real estate developer, purchased 126 acres of Morris Island for $6.5 million. The company agreed to resell it to the conservation nonprofit TPL for $4.5 million – $2 million less than its acquisition price, with the intent of protecting the natural and historic resources of the Island while promoting balanced public access.

Slade Gleaton, TPL SC Director, also announced that by reducing the sale price for Morris Island, Ginn Resorts has freed up $1.5 million in public money previously dedicated to the project. “This is an exceptional win for our community,” said Gleaton. “We are now able to work with the City of Charleston, the City of Folly Beach, the PRC and others to shift these conservation-focused funds to help purchase Long Island, which has long been a high priority amongst the conservation community.” Long Island is an undeveloped marsh island near Folly Island and is a top conservation priority in the community.

Contributors to the Morris Island campaign included Ginn Resorts, the City of Charleston, the City of Folly Beach, the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, the South Carolina Conservation Bank, the State Ports Authority, the Civil War Preservation Trust, The Trust for Public Land and numerous other individuals and private and public entities.

About TPL: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. In South Carolina, TPL has protected over 16,000 acres, valued at more than $55 million.