http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld...e/12223214.htmOriginally Posted by [bQuote[/b] ]BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C.
International Paper may put up 90,000 acres
By Steve Jones
The Sun News
SHALLOTTE, N.C. - The announcement by International Paper Co. that it may be selling all or part of its more than 90,000 acres in Brunswick County means that nearly one-fifth of all land in the county could change hands in the next couple of years.
The prospect has land-conservation organizations thinking about connecting acres they've already preserved, the county thinking about future needs for sewage disposal and developers thinking about one of the hottest real estate markets on the East Coast.
The company's land parcels in Brunswick County, which are valued at more than $24 million by the tax office, range in size from less than three acres on U.S. 74/76 near Wilmington to more than 9,000 acres in the Green Swamp.
International Paper hasn't decided on how or when the land will be sold or just how much of it may eventually reach the market, said International Paper spokeswoman Amy Sawyer.
The company announced last week it could dispose of 6.8 million acres across the U.S., and Sawyer says he believes the sale will be over in two years.
Dan Bell, project director for the Nature Conservancy in Wilmington, said the organization has identified a couple of areas that have been left in their natural state it would like to have.
But he says is more excited about the prospect such a large land sale could have in helping the conservancy connect the 15,500 acres it owns in the Green Swamp with land the N.C. Coastal Land Trust has preserved along Town Creek and with other protected land near Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County.
"This may be the very last opportunity we have to protect tracts of this size," Bell said.
The conservancy paid $24 million for 38,000 acres International Paper owned in Pender County a couple of years ago. Bell and Nancy Preston at the Land Trust said the problem now is finding that kind of money.
N.C. conservation groups and state officials are talking about how they might buy some of the land, Bell said.
David Sandifer, Brunswick commissioners chairman, said International Paper has been selling parts of its Brunswick County holdings for several years.
Brunswick Forest, a development similar to Carolina Forest in Horry County, was started by International Paper and sold to private developers. The Land Trust got land along Town Creek, including 900 acres it gave to Brunswick County that's being developed as a horseback riding, hiking and canoeing area.
The county bought about 1,000 acres for a drip-irrigation system for its new sewer plant in Supply.
He said the county might look for some more International Paper land for future sewage effluent disposal.
"A lot of the land they're talking about getting rid of is not developable land," Sandifer, a real estate agent, said.
What is developable likely will not go without suitors.
International Paper sold a tract of land in Horry County in 1993 and 1994 to the Cana Corp., which later developed the Hunters Ridge subdivision there. International Paper's subsidiary, IP Realty Corp., also developed a former 12,000-acre timber farm into Carolina Forest, a community between Myrtle Beach and Conway.
"We're looking at a variety of things up there," said Pat Dowling, spokesman for Burroughs & Chapin, one of the Strand's largest developers.
B&C owns more than 50 acres of commercial property in the Shallotte area, and Dowling said the company has been and will continue to look for other Brunswick property for commercial or residential resort development.
Dowling said the International Paper divestiture has been in the works for years and doesn't think large companies such as B&C were surprised by the announcement.
"It's certainly within our market," he said.
Contact STEVE JONES at (910) 754-9855 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news. And the new sewer plant is the one that I am working on right now.