The Post and Courier

The family home, corner store and sprawling factory share one trait: They all can be characterized as real estate.

That would be little more than an interesting tidbit if it weren’t for another observation: at least in metro Charleston, what happens to one type of property – residential, commercial or industrial – influences the others.

Such findings are borne out in recent reports concerning the Lowcountry’s retail and industrial markets.

“Surging home construction, jobs and demographic growth directly correlates with expansion in the industrial market,” says Derek Mathis, commercial broker with NAI Avant in Charleston.

Put another way, metro Charleston’s ability to attract manufacturers is playing a role in the area experiencing a 22 percent increase in home sales for the first half of the year from a year earlier. Conversely, the double-digit housing boost is helping to lure companies to the region.

“National home builders are back on the scene, descending into virtually every submarket with new communities coming out of the ground,” Mathis adds.

Mathis’ quarterly report is upbeat about greater Charleston’s economic outlook. Likewise, fellow NAI Avant senior broker Ruth Marie Embler’s findings on the retail market are optimistic.

“The wave of momentum hitting the Charleston retail market earlier this year maintained its velocity during the second quarter,” Embler says.

She foresees the retail field and hospitality industry to continue to elevate the local economy thanks to Charleston’s “international reputation as a hot tourist destination and an abundance of general interest in the area.”

Here’s more:

• The King Street corridor “remained on fire” in terms of luring trendy new retailers such as Cariloha Bamboo, Lush cosmetics store and Swedish venture H&M.

• Gramling Brothers Real Estate & Development Co. disclosed plans to redevelop sections around the Bi-Lo anchored shopping center on Folly Road on James Island. Gramling will develop at least 66,000 square feet of retail space.

• Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant is “buzzing with new construction and openings” as part of its revitalization. Southern Season specialty food store is expected to open in late summer in 44,000 square feet at 730 Coleman Blvd. carrying gourmet foods, wines and cooking equipment while featuring a bakery, deli and restaurant.

• Ground broke in Summerville for the high-profile, mixed-use Nexton development. Nexton Retail Village intends to pre-lease up to 200,000 square feet of retail space and sites.

• Construction will begin soon on a 60,000-square-foot shopping center on North Main Street in Summerville.

Separately, Mathis highlights what he sees as the Charleston area’s competitive assets for recruiting industries: business friendly climate, skilled workforce, “world class” quality of life and a port with efficient access to the global marketplace.

He says the Lowcountry industrial market is a “bright spot” with a vacancy rate hovering around 7.5 percent in the second quarter.

Port container volume posted its strongest month since 2008 in May, he says. Manufacturers such as TIG Hitco, Immedion, Streit and Shimano built or expanded in “activity epicenter” Palmetto Commerce Park in North Charleston, and cable manufacturer Nexans is building a 250,000-square-foot plant in Bushy Park Industrial Complex.

Mathis, meanwhile, spotlighted what he calls “the Boeing Effect.” The commercial aircraft maker in April generated “more excitement in the marketplace,” he says, by disclosing it would double its footprint in the Charleston area in the next eight years, creating another 2,000 jobs and $1 billion in investment. Boeing also says it is seeking a place to engineer and assemble components for the 737 MAX.

“Reporting from the 2013 Paris Air Show, Boeing announced that it had racked up a total of 930 orders for the 787 Dreamliner,” Mathis says. The South Carolina plant is expected to handle 279 of the orders, he says. “Based on its anticipated production rate of three planes per month, the local factory would need almost eight years to deliver the current order.”

Mathis foresees continued growth in Palmetto Commerce Park “with an additional data center” and top-notch distribution facilities coming to market. Also, the Ladson area should see continued commercial sector growth “with a possible upcoming announcement from Bass Pro Shops,” he says.

“With interest rates hovering around all-time lows, steady hiring and a recovering housing market, we anticipate a growth in industrial property sales over the second half of 2013,” he says.

Founded in 1966, NAI Avant lodges its headquarters in Columbia and has an office in Charleston. For more information, visit

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or