He briefly played Phoebe’s rugged-looking, firefighter boyfriend on the hit television sitcom “Friends.”
More recently, he’s made guest appearances in other TV shows, including “Mike & Molly,” “CSI-Miami” and HBO’s “True Detective.”
Before his Hollywood career, he was a collegiate All-American football player and played in the NFL as a middle linebacker.
Now, he is poised for a second time to become one of the owners of the Port of Port Royal.
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Los Angeles actor and producer Matt Battaglia has ties to a group awarded the winning bid this month for the former state port along Battery Creek, records show. Battaglia, 51, who also is a real estate investor in addition to his Hollywood roles, was among a group that tried to buy the port property in 2015, though the $15.42 million deal fell through.
The new development group likely will pay less for the 317-acre tract, given the most-recent $6.95 million appraisal of the property. State officials have declined repeated requests by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette for details of the winning bid, contending state law allows them to keep it secret while the deal is pending.
The port site, which includes 51 acres of high ground, could eventually transform the small town of Port Royal if redeveloped into a planned mix of new houses, restaurants, shops, a marina and hotel.
“There’s so much right there, given what’s available with regards to development opportunities,” Battaglia told the newspapers in 2015. “I just think this could be a little slice of heaven.”
In an email Friday to the newspapers, Battaglia said only, “I don’t wish to make any comments at this point.”
The S.C. Department of Administration earlier this month awarded the winning bid for the port site to Van Cleve Enterprises Inc. Battaglia is the chief executive officer of a corporation with the same name in California, a 2014 business filing in that state shows.
The development group is made up of about six people, including Greenville developer Larry McNair, local business owners and investors, said Whit Suber, a Columbia-based real estate broker working with the buyers. Battaglia recently bought 34 acres in Greenville, his website says.
McNair’s brother and Battaglia were part of Palmetto Alliance Property Group LLC, which made the unsuccessful attempt to buy the port property for $15.42 million in 2015.
Suber wouldn’t confirm Battaglia’s latest involvement with the port or reveal the identities of the local partners, citing partnerships that are still being formed.
Three bids were made on the port property before the mid-March deadline for initial offers, said David Hornsby, a Beaufort and Savannah developer who spent years working to buy the property with the Port Royal Development Group.
The latest offers were all for at least the $6.95 million that the property was valued at last year, Hornsby said. He said he didn’t participate in the bidding but stayed informed by someone who did, adding he would participate in the project if given the opportunity.
Hornsby would not reveal the amount of the winning bid but said the price makes the project “economically viable by about half” of the $17 million that the Port Royal Development Group once had the property under contract for before its termination in 2012.
The successful bid this time was only $100,000 more than the next-highest amount after final offers were received by the end of March, Hornsby said.
The state Department of Administration has declined to publicly release the sales contract, citing exemptions to the state’s open-records law allowing — though not requiring — the document to remain secret until the transfer of the deed.
The agency recently quoted The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette a total charge of $1,613 to proceed with a request under the state Freedom of Information Act for correspondence and documents related to the sale of the port property. The agency said its estimate was based on the hourly rate of seven employees — including two attorneys, the division director and deputy director.
In addition to the charges, much of the information in documents the newspapers asked for won’t be released while the sale is pending, Department of Administration spokeswoman Kelly Coakley said.
The request included documents from January 2016 through now. That covers the period the sale was turned over to the agency’s General Services Division from the S.C. Ports Authority, which failed to sell the property over the course of several attempts after the port was closed in 2004.
The Department of Administration has declined to publicly reveal identities of the individuals who are part of the winning development group, other than telling the town of Port Royal that Van Cleve Enterprises Inc. was the successful bidder.
Battaglia’s mother was Nancy Van Cleve Battaglia, according to the biography on his website. She died of cancer in 1993.
While involved in the first deal in 2015, Battaglia, who, according to his biography, grew up near Atlanta, told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette then that he had visited Port Royal and considered buying a second home there.
When the $15.42 million contract fell through, he cited the high cost of a planned residential section of the property and questions about insurance proceeds from a July 2015 fire on the property.
The blaze destroyed the town’s seafood market and ultimately pushed out Dockside, a popular waterfront restaurant. The town still holds the $1.8 million in insurance proceeds paid by the state Insurance Reserve Fund and will work with the eventual buyers on how to distribute the money, town manager Van Willis said recently.
The potential buyers made their required initial payment April 11 and now are in a 90-day due diligence period before the planned closing in August, state officials said. Their money becomes nonrefundable after 45 days.
If the current group drops out, the state will move on to the next-highest bidder.
“The nice thing is there will be someone who gets this,” Hornsby said. “That’s the good news for Port Royal. Somebody in the next six months will be in charge.”
Suber said he is confident in the current partners. He wants to open some areas of the long-fenced-off property as soon as possible.
That could mean seeking approval for a planned extension of the Spanish Moss Trail across Ribaut Road into Port Royal and convincing town officials to tweak an existing development agreement to allow an existing boat storage facility to stay.
The boat storage building, known as a drystack, was required to be torn down as part of an agreement adopted in 2011. But Suber said there is immediate demand to operate the building, and that it would draw activity to the property while the rest of the port development progresses.
Palmetto Alliance developers had been in talks to move the drystack facility to the marina area after town officials balked at leaving it at the foot of London Avenue, Battaglia said in 2015.
The 51 acres of high ground could eventually become a 225-slip marina, hotel, housing development, restaurants and waterfront shops, according to the development agreement. A large, industrious concrete terminal building has been envisioned in the past as an open-air market where visitors can shop and walk along the water.
The chain was ceremoniously cut from the port gates at the end of Paris Avenue earlier this month as residents roamed the previously off-limits property and walked the waterfront. Suber said he plans to hold similar events regularly.