By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Although they both proffer real estate, residential agents and commercial brokers face widely disparate tasks in their jobs.
The economic factors that impact residences, condos and townhomes tend to wander far afield from those that prod retail, office and industrial properties.
For instance, while the housing market in the Charleston area and elsewhere was suffering through a sustained downturn dating to 2007, commercial real estate locally ebbed and flowed with the arc of business — sinking during the recession and shining before and after.
Yet the factors that influence home sales aren’t totally estranged from the economic patterns that impinge upon store, business and factory deals.
“Well, historically, retail followed roof tops,” says David Grubbs, managing principal of NAI Avant’s Charleston office. Specifically, the first commercial projects built after new homes pop up tend to be shopping centers with grocery stores as anchors, he says.
A local case in point is the Corner at Wescott plaza under construction on Dorchester Road. Already disclosed tenants include Harris Teeter supermarket and Marshalls brand-name fashion store.
“I think that’s a sign of the (residential) recovery,” Grubbs says, pointing out that the outlet is counting on demand from nearby Wescott Plantation and other new-home neighborhoods. “The Dorchester corridor has good demographics,” he says.
Figures aren’t yet available on the Charleston area’s commercial market performance for 2012.
But Avison Young’s local office has outlined retail, office and industrial trends through most of the year.
In its reports, the commercial brokerage found that West Ashley boasted the largest share of store space at 4.4 million square feet as of third quarter 2012 and, with downtown Charleston, displayed the lowest vacancy rate at 5.8 percent. Peninsula Charleston posted the highest asking rent at $25.43 a square foot.
Downtown Charleston also averaged the highest office rent at $30.54 per square foot as of second quarter 2012 and the lowest vacancy share at 8 percent. Top volume was West Ashley at 7.4 million square feet of “class A” space.
Among industrial properties as of the third quarter, North Charleston showed the highest warehouse and distribution volume at 18.1 million square feet while downtown Charleston claimed the tightest vacancy rate at 5.5 percent and priciest asking rent at $5.82 per square foot.
Grubbs says NAI Avant is close to releasing its 2012 report.
“Overall, we are seeing positive trends,” he says. Downtown Charleston is strong in retail and office growth, he says, citing how developer Holder Properties is constructing a corporate building anchored by Charlotte-based CertusBank at 174 Meeting St. in what had been a parking lot for decades.
“That’s pretty exciting,” he says.
A retail opening in 2012 was Six Mile Marketplace anchored by a Harris Teeter off U.S. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant. There was a ground-breaking at The Boulevard, a mixed-use development from a Beach Co. affiliate on Coleman Boulevard, he says.
Nexton, a 4,500-acre master planned community from MeadWestvaco at Interstate 26 and U.S. Highway 17A in Summerville, kicked off in 2012. The large-scale development combines home sales and commercial growth, including the forestry company’s new local headquarters.
“They’re preparing infrastructure,” Grubbs says.
The industrial market had a few big announcements last year. They included Boeing’s intentions to buy substantial acreage around Charleston International Airport to be ready for future growth.
“That’s huge,” he says.
Among the savvy manufacturing zones last year was Palmetto Commerce Park in Ladson, home to a mix of light industrial companies such as Shimano bicycle company and Daimler Sprinter vans.
“We are seeing more activity in the industrial sector,” Grubbs says.
Meanwhile, it’s only January but 2013 already has big news: Google publicized plans to substantially broaden its Goose Creek campus’ footprint.
Looking ahead, “We are cautiously optimistic,” Grubbs says. “We will continue to see vacancy tightening up, (price) rates stabilize.”
A few areas experienced depressed per square foot rents and higher rates of empty space last year, typically tied to tenants that were downsizing, he says. The good news: “We are seeing those (restock) with backfill.”
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.
Much of the commercial activity in the Lowcountry last year took place in peninsular Charleston (Photo by Leroy Burnell/Staff).×
Boeing intends to purchase more land around Charleston International Airport to be ready for future expansion (Photo by Leroy Burnell/Staff).×
25 Calhoun office building opened in 2011 downtown (File/David Slade/Staff).×