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Lowcountry Land Trust acquires 600 acres

Real Estate - Commercial
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Lowcountry Land Trust has purchased the 600-acre Hyde Park Plantation in the Cooper River Historic District, protecting it from future development.

The land, located in Berkeley County, cost around $3.5 million. Most of the money came from the S.C. State Ports Authority’s Cooper River Fund; the remainder was privately financed. No details were given on who else financed the deal, or how much each party contributed.

About the land

The Hyde Park Plantation parcel has 500 acres of upland forest, 100 acres of rice fields, a historic main house, servant quarters and a guesthouse. It has nearly a mile of waterfront along the Cooper River.

The land was a 1790s getaway for the Ball family, who also owned the adjacent Kensington Plantation to the east. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Bonneau Ferry Wildlife Management Area sits to the west.

“Plats dating to the late 1700s show roads, ponds and fences indicating that Hyde Park, like its neighbors along the Cooper, was a working plantation,” a news release said. “Since the mid-20th century, the property has been managed primarily for timber.”

The ports authority established the $5 million Cooper River Fund in 2014 as part of its efforts to improve relationships with the environmental community and mitigate impacts to the region from the deepening of Charleston Harbor, which is set to begin in the fall.

Lowcountry Land Trust can pull money from the fund to buy tracts of land it wants to preserve. The conservation agency will then sell any acquired land to a conservation buyer and put the proceeds back into the revolving fund for future purchases, said Ashley Demosthenes, president and CEO of Lowcountry Land Trust.

The trust bought the 425-acre French Quarter Creek tract in 2015; it has not yet been sold. With the Hyde Park purchase, the fund is now empty until either tract is sold.

Demosthenes said the Hyde Park Plantation land is up for sale to any buyer, such as a public agency that wants to preserve it and open it for public use, or a private buyer who wants to use it for recreational purposes.

The land will have an easement on it, restricting future owners from developing it. The trust will also commission a land and habitat management plan for properties.

“The point is to make sure the land is protected and then pass it on to the next person that will steward it into the future,” Demosthenes said.

This is the land trust’s 13th protected property in the Cooper River Corridor, for a total of more than 49,000 acres. It is the second site protected through the port fund.

Demosthenes said the Hyde Park Plantation has significant historical and ecological significance for the region. Its protection preserves the plant life and wildlife in the area, as well as enhances water quality. It also increases the amount of adjacent protected land in the corridor.

“Properties like that don’t come on the market very often,” she said. “When this opportunity was presented to us, it made a lot of sense to invest these funds because of its proximity to the river and our commitment to conserve really important, special properties on the Cooper River.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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