CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The city hired Southeastern Land Company to assist with buying new property for Conway’s redevelopment goals.
The easement acquisition and project management firm was selected after the city put out a request for bids last spring.
Conway City Administrator Adam Emrick said the city tried to acquire property on its own but realized it was in over its head.
“The area that we are looking at acquiring has a lot of heirs property and a lot of ownership issues, so we needed someone to kind of hand-hold both the city and the potential sellers to the city to be able to get through the process and actually be able to close on a property that we were looking at buying,” he said.
Emrick explained he spent over a year’s worth of time negotiating for the purchase of land without successfully closing a deal.
“If you are looking at acquiring multiple properties, assembling that property is very tricky, it requires a lot of time and because we’re not in the real estate business necessarily,” Emrick said.
He said the city needed a professional real estate broker to act on the city’s behalf in finding and negotiating sales.
Buying land is a key part of many of the city’s future redevelopment and development missions.
Emrick said the city is in the process of buying land along Highway 378 to beautify the area with landscaping and a city sign. He added that in the future the land could be part of an economic development project going forward.
Conway allocated $350,000 for the Highway 378 Improvement Project and for downtown redevelopment. Another $400,000 is budgeted for “Infrastructure improvements to support Riverfront/Downtown/378 Projects.”
Since the Southeastern Land Company is still closing on deals, Conway hasn’t been billed yet. However, Emrick said the company costs the city around $200 an hour.
“Rather than pay a percentage of each purchase, which you would traditionally find with a realtor, we pay an hourly fee, so there is an incentive to get us a good price and to get a good deal worked out that actually saves taxpayers’ money,” the city administrator said.
Emrick said the only way for the city to successfully acquire property and fulfill its project goals is with a professional.
“You wouldn’t have someone who was a non-lawyer trying to negotiate legal cases,” Emrick said. “You need someone who knows what they are doing to be able to do that for you. Otherwise you’re missing out and don’t even know what you’re missing.”