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Latest News in Ravenel, SC

Potential new development may be on its way to Ravenel

RAVENEL, S.C. (WCIV) — A new development could be breaking ground in the Town of Ravenel.On Thursday, a public meeting was held for developers to share their plans with the community. But for some, Ravenel is home.Read more: ...

RAVENEL, S.C. (WCIV) — A new development could be breaking ground in the Town of Ravenel.

On Thursday, a public meeting was held for developers to share their plans with the community. But for some, Ravenel is home.

Read more: West Ashley Publix to be relocated, 280-unit apartment complex to take its spot: Proposal

“I grew up here as a child and live right down this dirt road, my father still lives there and I’m with him, and he’s soon to be 80 years old and I remember this area being quaint, being cool, being pristine, I used to play in the woods," said Angela Brown who has grown up in Ravenel her entire life.

For Brown and many others, there may be change coming soon to the area.

"We've had a request of annexation and a planned development of roughly 350 new homes or residential units," Ravenel Mayor Stephen Tumbleston said. "Single family homes with a few town houses as well and it's got a commercial element to it as well."

But for residents like Angela Brown, this means more room for trouble.

A new development could be breaking ground in the Town of Ravenel. (WCIV)

"I'm thinking about the traffic, the increase in traffic," Brown said. "Right now, I can barely get out to check the mail, go across the street and check the mail. It's a two lane road. If you tear up everything, if you uproot everything that God put here, eventually we’ll have no trees, beautiful birds flying, animals, deer. We'll have none of that."

Officials hope residents know their concerns are being heard as they continue to move forward in the process.

"We're going to take the recommendation from council and consider those next Tuesday night, our first reading," Tumbleston said. "We'll have a public hearing before that meeting as well, so we can hear any additionally comments or concerns. We'll continue to try to do what’s best for our area while considering the future impacts of everything around us."

Read more: Large development on Calhoun Street has 4th meeting with BAR for approval

Whether these plans get approved or denied, people like Brown will continue fighting for the town that they love.

"This is not the place, I'm not saying this isn't the time, but this is not the place," Brown said. "As long as I have the breath in my body, I'm going to fight for the community that I love."

The next public hearing will be on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Bluffton, South Carolina’s Old Town Offers Charming, Down-Home Living

Old Town, a down-home upscale neighborhood in the South Carolina river town of Bluffton, is defined by i...

Old Town, a down-home upscale neighborhood in the South Carolina river town of Bluffton, is defined by its Southern hospitality and luxurious lifestyle.

“It’s the heartbeat of Beaufort County and what draws many people to the area,” said Dave Jarman, a broker with Corcoran HM Properties. “‘Charming’ is the first word that comes to mind. ‘Welcoming’ is a close second.”

He added that Old Town is so darn friendly that “it’s common for strangers to say ‘hello’ or ‘how are ya’ll doing?’ as they pass by.”

The atmosphere, according to Mary Vaux Bell, an agent with Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty, is “relaxed, chic and very down to earth.”

More: Home to Hobart’s ‘Millionaire’s Row,’ Sandy Bay Offers Waterfront Living and Walkability

Boundaries

Old Town, which may be accessed via car or boat, is bounded by Bridge Street and the May River waterway on the south, Burnt Church Road on the east, May River Road on the north and Verdier Cove Road on the west.

Price Range

Noting that properties in Old Town don’t come on the market very often, Ms. Vaux Bell said that riverfront or marsh-front single-family houses, which typically are on 0.75 of an acre to 2 acres, generally run $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

The inner streets of the community, whose houses are set on a quarter to a half acre, are also desirable places to live, she said, adding that they typically sell for around $1 million.

More: Londoners Pay a Pretty Penny to Live in Holland Park—Home to Summer Opera, Grand Mansions and Victoria Beckham

Housing Stock

The houses in Old Town, which is in a National Register Historic District and a Preserve America Community, were originally built and used as summer residences and typically feature significant porch space as well as interior space. They date from the 1800s to the present, and generally are on lots starting at one-tenth of an acre.

The architectural styles and materials, which range from clapboard siding and brick to tabby, vary.

“While there are new homes, many of the older ones have been updated or restored for a relaxed and understated yet posh coastal-cottage aesthetic,” Ms. Vaux Bell said. “The homes in the inner streets are mostly new but custom designed to blend in with the Spanish moss, mature oaks and oyster-shell driveways.”

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What Makes It Unique

Old Town’s location—Bluffton is only 30 minutes from Hilton Head Island and a couple of hours from Charleston, Jacksonville, Atlanta and Charlotte—makes it a premier place to live, Ms. Vaux Bell said.

She noted that in addition to the historic structures and welcoming atmosphere, Old Town basks in Bluffton’s numerous accolades: It made Travel + Leisure’s 2022 list of “8 Charming Small Towns in SC” and Southern Living’s 2019 list of “The South’s Best Small Towns.”

Mr. Jarman added that Old Town’s “true appreciation for historic elements and restrictions in place on commercial properties” makes it “a picturesque section of Bluffton.”

Its walkability, its boutiques and numerous social events, festivals and markets, he said, are other attractions.

More: In Eclectic Tel Aviv, Everything in Park Tzameret Is Shiny and New

Luxury Amenities

Old Town sets the scene for many of the town’s activities and is a dining and shopping destination.

There are several restaurants in the community. They include The Bluffton Room, which serves classic American cuisine; the coffee shop Corner Perk Brunch Cafe & Coffee Roasters; FARM Bluffton, whose menu is new-American cuisine; The Pearl Kitchen & Bar, which offers coastal cuisine; Nectar Farm Kitchen, which prepares dishes with ingredients from the Lowcountry and the South; and Calhoun Street Tavern, which specializes in comfort food.

Old Town Dispensary, a tavern with pub grub, “is where residents head for some live music and refreshing drink,” Mr. Jarman said.

Palmetto Bluff, a gated community across the May River from Old Town that has the highest-priced properties in the area, includes a Montage Resort and several fine-dining establishments.

Other amenities at Palmetto Bluff include an award-winning golf course, a marina that offers water excursions, several pools, a spa and wellness center, a shooting club and a working farm with educational programs and events for children.

The Bluffton Oyster Co., which has been providing fresh-harvested seafood to the community since 1899, is the last hand-shucking house in the state. In addition to the market, it has an eat-in restaurant.

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Heyward House, a historic museum built in 1841, doubles as the town’s official welcome center, offering tours.

In addition to a weekly farmer’s market filled with local vendors, Bluffton hosts more than 30 festivals and events annually.

Mr. Jarman noted that in addition to water activities, Old Town is “an incredible place to walk. Shops and restaurants are all a short distance from your home.”

Residents have a choice of private schools. May River Montessori is a high school in the community.

In Bluffton and Hilton Head, there are several more schools. Christian Academy is a coed college preparatory Christian school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade; the coed Cross Schools enrolls students from 12 months through 12th grade; and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School is a coed middle school.

More: Foreign Buyers Are Descending on Turkey’s Idyllic Coastal Town Kas

Who Lives There

The community, which traditionally attracted a slightly older crowd, has seen an influx of younger residents in recent years, Ms. Vaux Bell said, adding that there are celebrities and “a ton of major execs and sports players.”

Notable Residents

The Montage resort is a celebrity magnet. Chris Pratt and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, have spent time there, and Hailey and Justin Bieber held their wedding there, according to published reports. NASCAR driver Gus Dean and science writer Kitty Ferguson live in Bluffton, according to published reports.

More: University Park Is the Beverly Hills of Texas

Outlook

Noting that prices in the Town of Bluffton have risen by 44.6% since 2018 and 25.4% since 2021, Ms. Vaux Bell said that the town’s market “has not slowed down. The inventory has waned a bit, but the demand is very much present.”

Even during the pandemic, the market flourished, she said, with “an influx of residents, mostly from the North, many of whom bought properties sight unseen.”

As far as Old Town Bluffton, “regardless of the market, there will always be a demand for these properties,” she said.

Mr. Jarman was also optimistic about the Bluffton and Old Town markets. Statistics for the town show that average cumulative days on market for houses that sold for over $1 million have dropped from 259 to 33 from 2018 to the end of 2022—a “shocking” decrease, he said.

He added that the pandemic has “forever changed” the market for the entire state as “the typical needs of buyers shifted. Cost of living is increasing in South Carolina, but it is still relatively low in comparison to other luxury neighborhoods on the coast.”

South Carolina lawmaker proposes 'Yankee tax' as northerners flock to state in droves

High taxes, rising costs, crime spur exodus to red states: Jonas Max Ferris, Danielle DiMartino00:0000:0004:25GO LIVEFacebookTwitterEmailEmbedSpeedNormalAutoplaySouth Carolina state Senator Stephen Goldfinch proposed a bill, dubbed the "Yankee tax," that would require new residents to pay up to $500 to move to the Palmetto State.If passed by state referendum...

High taxes, rising costs, crime spur exodus to red states: Jonas Max Ferris, Danielle DiMartino

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South Carolina state Senator Stephen Goldfinch proposed a bill, dubbed the "Yankee tax," that would require new residents to pay up to $500 to move to the Palmetto State.

If passed by state referendum, new residents moving from out-of-state to South Carolina would be required to pay two one-time fees, $250 for new driver’s licenses and $250 for vehicle registrations.

Sen. Goldfinch shared with Fox News Digital that the proposal is not trying to stop people from coming from out of state, just for new residents to "catch up with the rest of us."

"I’m not trying to build a wall and this is not a fee against new residents it’s a fee for people to catch up with the rest of us," Goldfinch told Fox News Digital.

TEXAS, FLORIDA, CAROLINAS AMONG MOST MOVED TO STATES IN 2022 DATA SHOWS

The money raised from the additional $250 tax would go towards the state's infrastructure including roads, bridges, and common community spaces.

"I think there's a rational basis for requiring newcomers to catch up with the rest of us and contribute to the roads, bridges, schools and green spaces that we've [residents] always contributed to," Goldfinch shared with Fox News Digital.

His proposal comes after droves of people from the northeast have moved down to South Carolina in recent years. According to the U.S. Census, nearly half a million people moved to the Palmetto state in the past decade.

People flocked to the southeast during the pandemic and stayed due to a host of reason including work flexibility, lower taxes, and warmer weather.

STATES LOOK TO SECURE ELECTRICAL GRID AFTER SUBSTATION ATTACKS

Sen. Goldfinch points to South Carolina residents as inspiration for the bill.

"Our quality of life has been diminished by the almost 4 million people that have moved here in the last decade." Goldfinch shared. "And we anticipate another million people moving here in the next decade. Everybody is concerned about their quality of life."

Despite the tax to newcomers, Sen. Goldfinch shared that he doubts the add $250 or $500 will discourage people to move to South Carolina.

"I find it hard to believe that $250 is going to dissuade anybody from coming." Goldfinch shared with Fox News Digital.

The New Resident fee referendum will be available for debate on the South Carolina Senate floor next week, Goldfinch shared. If passed, counties will vote on it in their general elections in 2024.

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South Carolina isn't the only state with similar legislation on their ballots. California and New York proposed legislation to tax people leaving the state.

"If you can charge people to leave, I don't see any reason why you can't charge somebody to come in the door." Goldfinch stated..

SC home sales dive to lowest level in 5 years

South Carolina home sales dipped to their lowest level in five years in January while prices went in the opposite direction.Residential transactions dropped nearly 32 percent last month compared to the same month a year ago, according to preliminary data from the S.C. Realtors Association.In January, 5,152 homes changed hands statewide, the lowest number since January 2019.Sales have now been down for 14 consecutive months across the Palmetto State. The median price, however, continued to climb, rising 7.7 percent to $30...

South Carolina home sales dipped to their lowest level in five years in January while prices went in the opposite direction.

Residential transactions dropped nearly 32 percent last month compared to the same month a year ago, according to preliminary data from the S.C. Realtors Association.

In January, 5,152 homes changed hands statewide, the lowest number since January 2019.

Sales have now been down for 14 consecutive months across the Palmetto State. The median price, however, continued to climb, rising 7.7 percent to $307,500. That’s about $22,000 more than January last year and $105,000 higher than in January 2019.

Rob Woodul, president of S.C. Realtors and an agent with Carolina One Real Estate in Charleston, said the lower sales reflect a normalization of the market to 2019 numbers “from the craziness of the past couple of years” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also pointed out the December-February period is usually the slower time of year for home sales and looked to an uptick in the warmer spring-selling season, based on recent market activity of pending contracts.

For the year, Woodul predicted residential transactions will be “flat or a little above” 2019′s numbers. The higher cost of borrowing, persistent inflation and lack of available homes continue to hinder the market.

All 16 housing submarkets in the state reported double-digit sales declines, with some of the bigger metropolitan markets tumbling more than 30 percent from a year ago, just before the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates to try to tame inflation.

Charleston, the state’s largest market by volume, posted a 36 percent drop in closings. Myrtle Beach, the second-largest market in terms of sales, slipped 29 percent. Columbia saw a decline of 30 percent while Greenville was down 31 percent.

Hilton Head slid 39 percent while Rock Hill dipped nearly 32 percent.

Pricewise, every metropolitan area in South Carolina posted increases from more than 4 percent to nearly 9 percent. Myrtle Beach saw a 16 percent surge over the same month a year ago. While sales were down in January, the median price came in higher at every submarket except the Anderson-based, three-county region in the state’s northwest corner.

As for rising prices, which continue to put homes out of reach for many would-be buyers, Woodul pointed out a simple axiom of economics.

“It’s supply and demand,” he said.

Housing inventory hasn’t kept up with those wanting to buy a home during the past decade because homebuilders are reluctant to overbuild after being burned during the deep recession of 2008, Woodul noted.

Across the state, Hilton Head Island continued to post the highest median price at $500,000. Charleston ranked second at $380,000 while Rock Hill, in the growing suburbs of Charlotte, came in third at $374,500.

Beaufort wasn’t far behind at $366,000, with Myrtle Beach showing $313,000 and Greenville at $300,000.

Several areas reported median prices between $250,000 and $300,000, including Aiken, Columbia, North Augusta and Spartanburg. Those between $200,000 and $250,000 were regional offices in Anderson, Gaffney, Greenwood and Sumter. Those below $200,000 included Florence and Orangeburg.

Along with elevated home prices is the higher cost of borrowing.

Home loan financier Freddie Mac reported Feb. 23 the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage edged up to 6.50 percent. The average rate on a 15-year note rose slightly to 5.76 percent. Both rates were between 3 percent and 4 percent at this time last year.

“The economy continues to show strength, and interest rates are repricing to account for the stronger than expected growth, tight labor market and the threat of sticky inflation,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

DAK Americas shutters Moncks Corner resin plant, laying off 125

A Charlotte chemical firm has abruptly shut down a Moncks Corner plant that made the raw material for products like water bottles and packaging, leaving 125 workers without a job.DAK Americas LLC — a subsidiary of Monterrey, Mexico-based Alpek — has permanently closed a plant along the Cooper River that produced PET resin, a type of polyester that’s derived from petroleum.DAK Americas said it will move production from Bushy Park to another unidentified site. The Berkeley County plant, which was built in the ea...

A Charlotte chemical firm has abruptly shut down a Moncks Corner plant that made the raw material for products like water bottles and packaging, leaving 125 workers without a job.

DAK Americas LLC — a subsidiary of Monterrey, Mexico-based Alpek — has permanently closed a plant along the Cooper River that produced PET resin, a type of polyester that’s derived from petroleum.

DAK Americas said it will move production from Bushy Park to another unidentified site. The Berkeley County plant, which was built in the early 1970s, had the capacity to make 170,000 pounds of the resin annually.

“This difficult decision was necessitated as we optimize our assets to remain competitive in the challenging global polyester markets,” Richard Lane Jr., the company’s director of public affairs and trade relations, said in a letter to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.

The company said the shutdown will save it about $20 million a year.

Parent company Alpek said in a written statement that it is “constantly exploring ways to create value through optimization of its installed capacity and strengthening its cost competitiveness.”

The company said it plans to grow “through more efficient utilization of its assets.”

The closure comes on the same day that Jorge Young Cerecedo took over as CEO of Alpek. Cerecedo, who has been with the company for 32 years, also will remain president of the Alpek Polyster division that accounts for two-thirds of Alpek’s revenues.

Alpek acquired the Moncks Corner plant in a 2001 deal with DuPont, which was exiting the polyester market. Alpek created its DAK Americas subsidiary to operate the South Carolina site and other factories.

The plant closure comes less than two years after DAK Americas cut 200 full-time jobs and 40 contract workers at the Cooper River site as it wound down its polyester staple fibers business. The company blamed the decision on a flood of cheap imports.

Alpek, which is publicly traded on the Mexican Stock Exchange, reported revenues of $10.6 billion in 2022 — an 37 percent increase from the previous year — and net income of $789 million. It has more than 7,000 employees at 35 plants located in nine countries.

COLUMBIA — Volkswagen subsidiary Scout Motors will build a $2 billion electric vehicle manufacturing plant in the Columbia suburb of Blythewood, adding to South Carolina’s growing portfolio of businesses tied to next-generation cars.

Scout will employ 4,000 workers as part of the record-breaking deal for Richland County, which coming off a series of recent large economic-development deals including an $800 million solar panel manufacturing plant and a $490 million brewery from the maker of White Claw Hard Seltzer.

“This is the biggest development news for the Midlands since the capital was moved here in 1786,” S.C. Rep. Micah Caskey, R-West Columbia, tweeted.

Scout makes electric pickups and SUVs. The plant will produce 200,000 vehicles annually, according to a statement from the Gov. Henry McMaster’s office.

The plant will take up 1,100 acres of the 1,600-acre Blythewood Industrial Site off Interstate 77. Production is expected to begin by the end of 2026.

“The impact this will have on our local economy cannot be overstated: this is historic and transformative,” House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, said in a statement.

Blythewood Mayor Bryan Franklin, whose town was the state’s fifth-fastest growing in the past decade, said Scout was bringing a “historic investment (that) will bring thousands of jobs, economic growth and opportunity to our local community.”

Scout vehicles have been on U.S. roads before. The International Harvester company, known mostly for trucks and tractors, made SUVs and pickups in the 1960s and ’70s with the Scout badge, a vehicle still treasured by some collectors of classic off-road sport-utilities. VW now owns the Scout brand and has been planning its revival with a U.S. plant.

The Volkswagen Group announced the re-launch of Scout as an all-electric vehicle line in May 2022, hoping to break into the growing electric truck and SUV market.

“After Volkswagen’s successful turnaround in the U.S., we are now taking the opportunity to further strengthen our position in one of the most significant growth markets for EVs. Electrification provides a historic opportunity to enter the highly attractive pick-up and R-SUV segment as a Group, underscoring our ambition to become a relevant player in the U.S. market,” Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess said at the time.

The electric vehicle industry has been boosted nationwide by a number of federal tax credits and loan programs included in the Biden Administration’s climate bill signed in August 2022.

Included were $2 billion in grants to repurpose traditional auto plants into making electric vehicles and up to $20 billion more in loans to build new factories. And production tax credits for batteries and their components could offset more than a third of the cost of battery packs made in the United States.

South Carolina is becoming a leader in the nation’s EV industry, with its top vehicle manufacturers making the shift to the production of battery powered cars.

This is the fourth auto manufacturer to build electric vehicles in South Carolina, joining Mercedes, Volvo and Volvo subsidiary Polestar, all outside of Charleston, and BMW in Greer.

BMW last year announced it is investing $1.7 billion to make EVs and batteries in the Upstate and Volvo Cars in the Lowcountry has pledged to build only battery-powered cars by 2030. Mercedes-Benz will also build its new eSprinter, an all-electric cargo van, in North Charleston starting this year.

Those companies have lured dozens of suppliers and ancillary companies, including Japan-based battery maker Envision AESC, locating in Florence County, and Nevada’s Redwood Materials, which is building a $3.5 billion battery recycling plant in Berkeley County.

Longtime Lowcountry manufacturer Robert Bosch also announced a $260 million update to its Dorchester County plant to build electric motors. And Proterra Inc., which makes batteries for commercial trucks, buses and heavy equipment, opened a facility in Greer.

Richland County continues to chase at least one other electric vehicle related company. An unnamed maker of electric vehicle battery components, known only by a codename “Project Viper,” could open a $323 million manufacturing plant on 206 acres south of Columbia in the Pineview Industrial Park, where it is expected to employ 310 people, according to county documents.

“This proposed (Scout) manufacturing facility marks a major milestone in the history of Richland County and the potential for our most significant economic development project to date,” Richland County Council Chairman Overture Walker said in a statement. “This decision represents a transformational breakthrough that would position us at the forefront of the clean energy future.”

McMaster has made it a priority to attract electric vehicle and EV parts manufacturers to the state, launching a website scpowersev.com highlighting the industry potential in the state.

“Scout Motors will provide thousands of South Carolinians with previously unimagined opportunities and prosperity for generations to come,” the governor said in a statement.

Mike Fitts contributed from Columbia and and David Wren contributed from Charleston.

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