AP NEWS

Empty expensive houses bought for I-526 extension years ago

February 24, 2019

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina bought $30 million worth of coastal homes and properties in recent years for a highway that has yet to be built.

At least two homes, worth more than $1 million, on Johns Island have been sitting vacant for at least four years as haggling continues over an extension of Interstate 526 near Charleston, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.

That means no taxes have been paid on the prime property and the homes have not been kept up.

“It’s not really consistent with the mission of the organization to become a landlord or owner of several properties,” South Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said.

The land and homes were bought between 2009 and 2016 as hardship acquisitionsL The owners asked the state to buy them out because the proposed I-526 extension kept them from selling the houses or developing the land.

After buying the properties, the I-526 extension west of Charleston over Johns and James Islands was put on hold because of problems finding the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to finish the highway.

But in January, the state and Charleston County agreed on a plan and the project started up again.

“We are moving forward. I do not have an exact timeline,” Hall said.

DOT spent $10 million buying the land where developers had planned a 210-home subdivision. It also bought three houses in a small gated James Island subdivision for an average of $1.3 million each. The homes were all less than 10 years old.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com