News Article | 11/9/2007

Perot Jr. to build on 750 acres

An office and industrial property development company owned by H. Ross Perot Jr.—son of the Texas billionaire and onetime presidential candidate H. Ross Perot—is poised to begin construction of a 750-acre business park near Interstate 26 in Berkeley County.

The development, to be called the Charleston Trade Center, will be located on Interstate 25 between exits 194 and 199 near the Piggy Wiggly Distribution Center. The site, formerly known as the Mercedes tract, will have approximately 9 million square feet of Class A distribution and manufacturing facilities at full buildout.

Hillwood Investment Properties planned to announce the construction of its initial building, a 400,000-square-foot structure that can be expanded to 600,000 square feet, on Monday.

But the plan was revealed Thursday when S.C. State Ports Authority President and CEO Bernard S. Groseclose Jr. made reference to an advance copy of the company’s press release during a ports authority board meeting.

“This is a very significant development, and great news for the Port of Charleston and the region,” he said.

Groseclose commended Fred N. Stribling, vice president of marketing and sales, and other ports authority employees for helping make Hillwood’s presence in the Lowcountry a reality.

A Hillwood spokesman declined to comment on the development, but confirmed that a master plan, map and other details relating to the project were already on the company’s Web site under its earlier designation, the “Berkeley Trade Center.”

Al Kennedy, who was a project manager with the Berkeley County Economic Development department before assuming his current position as the county’s administrative services director, said Hillwood approached the county more than a year ago looking for a potential site for a commercial park in South Carolina.

“It goes back to the expansion of the port, the challenges associated with that, and the lack of port-related infrastructure,” Kennedy said. “Hillwood is involved in projects all over the world—all over the nation, certainly—and it saw the need for the kind of facility they do.

“They do their homework,” he said, “and they concluded that Berkeley County has tremendous potential in terms of this kind of development.”

According to Hillwood’s Web site, a new, full-movement interchange has been planned and funded at the southern boundary of the site, which is 20 miles from the Port of Charleston’s container terminals and 28 miles from the intersection of Interstate 26 and Interstate 95.

The site is served by both the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads, and the Berkeley Electric Cooperative.

The younger Perot, a real estate developer, has aggressively expanded the family fortunes, primarily through real estate. He became independently prominent in the 1980s through his development and ownership of Fort Worth Alliance Airport and the surrounding area.