Historic Morris Island Preserved (SC)

Charleston, SC, 5/30/08: With the historic Charleston Harbor as a backdrop – and the gentle dunes of Morris Island just visible beyond the surf – South Carolinians gathered today to mark the successful conveyance of Morris Island to public ownership.

Celebrating the closing today by the island’s new owner, the City of Charleston, were Bobby Ginn, Chairman and CEO of Ginn Resorts, representatives of The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the South Carolina State Ports Authority and the South Carolina Conservation Bank, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, and numerous others.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley said: “Today we are celebrating an extraordinary partnership between a generous landowner and the Charleston area’s many conservation-minded individuals and organizations. By working together, you have guaranteed Morris Island’s future as a place of beauty and reverence,” he said.

Following today’s closing, the City of Charleston is now the owner of Morris Island. The island is being purchased for $3.0 million, a price $1.5 million below the original purchase price agreed to by Ginn Resorts. A deed restriction placed on the property forever prohibits development on the island. 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.

“We are thrilled to have been able to help facilitate this process and ensure that Morris Island is preserved in perpetuity,” Ginn said. “As a life-long resident of South Carolina, I recognize the importance of this land and its place in our nation’s history.”

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. “Morris Island will stand for generations to come as a testament to this community’s ability to work together for a common cause,” said Slade Gleaton, SC Director of TPL, the group that helped facilitate the fundraising and purchase. “It is really extraordinary to see these various public and private entities come together to accomplish this historic outcome.”

Contributors to the Morris Island campaign included The Ginn Company, the City of Charleston, 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. The project also enjoyed congressional support especially from Senator Lindsey Graham who worked with the various entities throughout the process to see this project toward closing.

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, the Trust has protected over 16,000 acres, valued at more than $55 million. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations.