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SC Ports Authority plans to expand with purchase of former North Charleston paper mill site

SC Ports Authority announces plans to buy former WestRock paper mill site (left) in North Charleston to expand port capacity.
SC Ports Authority
Matthew Peacock
SC Ports Authority announces plans to buy the former WestRock paper mill site (left) in North Charleston.

The South Carolina Ports Authority announced plans Tuesday to buy the old WestRock paper mill site in North Charleston as it looks to expand port capacity. The 280-acre waterfront property sits adjacent to its North Charleston terminal.

The port says it will close on the land “as soon as practical”, adding the extra space will allow it to handle 5 million containers in the future while providing more room for ships as well as cargo.

“We are adding significant port capacity to support growth in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said in a statement.

The WestRock paper mill has long been a part of the Lowcountry landscape. It closed in August displacing more than 500 employees. North Charleston mayor Reggie Burgess said it helped support generations of the area’s families including his own.

“We are eager to collaborate closely with the South Carolina Ports Authority to guarantee the site continues to be a cornerstone of economic vitality,” Mayor Burgess said.

The port also credits the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their roles in its expansion. SCDOT plans to replace the Don Holt Bridge to allow bigger container ships to pass while the Corps looks to deepen a portion of the Cooper River.

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.