From its earliest history, Charleston, SC, has been a center of trade. The original settlers of the area in the late 1600s favored the location’s natural harbor. And the Port of Charleston is now one of the top ten ports in the United States – and growing. 

The busy port, which continues to break volume records year after year, remains in the spotlight thanks to ongoing major contracts, plans for expansion, and waterfront development projects. 

About the Port of Charleston

Charleston Harbor benefitted greatly in the early 20th century from the establishment of several major federal military bases in the area. The presence meant that the harbor was well-maintained and improved over the years. At the same time, the area’s shipping presence began to grow with the establishment of the Port Utilities Commission and the South Carolina Ports Authority. 

In 2018, the SC Ports Authority moved its headquarters to Mount Pleasant in an area overlooking the Wando Welch Terminal. The complex, which houses over 730 employees, offers shared workspaces, amenities, and meeting rooms. The agency has also received recognition from The Art Mag for its investment in the Lowcountry art community. 

The Port is currently rated as the number eight port in the United States by cargo value. In 2019, it broke records by handling 2.44 million 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), a 5% increase over the prior year. The port also handled 262,776 cruise passengers in 2019, a 24% increase over 2018 figures. 

The Port of Charleston is already impressive. But, residents and businesses will be even more excited about what the future holds for this area. 

What the Future Holds for the Port of Charleston

There are countless projects in the works for the Port of Charleston. Here are just a few:

  • A harbor deepening project is underway that will take the depth of the port from 52 feet at mean low tide to 58 feet. 
  • The Hugh K. Leatherman terminal is expected to open in 2021. This 80-acre facility is located in North Charleston and will increase the capacity of the port by 50%. 
  • The Jasper Ocean Terminal, with planned construction on the Savannah River, has a target completion and open date of 2035. 
  • Camden, NJ-based logistics company NFI has acquired locally-based G&P Trucking Co. Inc., both of which provide logistics and transportation services to major ports. 

In the most recent news, the Union Pier is likely to become a prime commercial waterfront site. Carnival Cruise line is close to inking a deal that will keep it operating at the port for another 20 years, according to the head of the State Ports Authority. The deal is likely to happen with or without a new terminal, which is a project that has been tied up in the court system. 

A 63-acre piece of the Union Pier property (about 25 acres of it developable) is currently on the market. This parcel is adjacent to the city’s Waterfront Park and an area where a California developer plans to build a 225-room hotel. Analysts believe the new property will likely be developed into mixed-use space. 

Your Source for Commercial Real Estate in Charleston

The commercial real estate specialists at Calwell Commercial have more than 80 years of combined experience in this industry. We are ready to help your business with all of its commercial real estate needs in the Charleston, SC area. Contact our office today to discuss your upcoming purchase, sale, property management, or development project.