Real estate values in the Charleston area have largely rebounded on the residential side.
And if a recent large transaction in East Cooper is any indication, values on the commercial side also are on the mend.
A company affiliated with a California real estate investment firm snapped up Patriots Plaza shopping center in Mount Pleasant for $24.6 million, a 16 percent premium to what the seller paid before the last recession, Charleston County property records show.
The buyer was SCG Patriots Plaza LLC, which is affiliated with San Francisco-based Stockbridge Capital Group. A company representative did not respond to requests for comment about the deal last week.
Patriots Plaza is one of the town's busiest community shopping centers. Its main anchor tenant is the region's only Whole Foods Market, followed by a Staples office supply store
The seller of the 116,868- square-foot property was Patriots Plaza Inc., which was backed by an unidentified New Hampshire-based pension fund that, in turn, was represented by Hart Realty Advisors of Connecticut. It had owned the center since mid-2006, when it paid $21.25 million.
Situated off U.S. Highway 17 at Houston Northcutt Boulevard, Patriots Plaza is more than 25 years old and mostly occupied. The property has changed hands several times, fetching $4.1 million in 1984, $8.7 million in 1999 and $13.5 million in 2004.
Smells like team spirit
If wearing school colors isn't enough for Clemson and University of South Carolina fans, now they can smell like their favorite in-state places of higher learning.
Masik Collegiate Fragrances recently teamed up with the two public institutions to create their official school scents, which were inspired by on-campus characteristics.
Masik said it developed the men's and women's fragrances and university officials tested them to choose which ones became the official perfume and cologne of each.
Scents for USC were inspired by the Horseshoe, the Gamecocks, roses, apples and "the Southern charm of Columbia," said company CEO Katie Masik.
Clemson's scents reflect the school's orange and purple colors, with ingredients such as mandarin and orange blossom.
"I wanted to create a fragrance line which is different than what's out there," Masik said. "Scent is really closely linked to memory, and I thought if we could link a smell to a very memorable life experience, it could spark memories of the past. And for me, a very memorable life experience was college."
The fragrances are sold online at Masik.com, and locally at Belk in Citadel Mall and Northwoods Mall. A 1.7-ounce bottle fetches $39.50.
Any time a Fortune 500 company asks to change the land use for several parcels of property, it raises an eyebrow. Such was the case with MeadWestvaco recently.
The packaging giant and mega-real estate owner and developer wants Dorchester County to rezone nearly 1,000 acres along a rail line near U.S. Highway 78 and S.C. Highway 27 to industrial use.
"We have requested a change in zoning to restrict it for business uses," said Jennifer Howard, spokeswoman for the company's Summmerville-based real estate development division. "We don't have any users identified. It's just a step in the process as we market and develop industrial campuses - to secure zoning which is compatible with the intended use."
Craneous Maximus sounds Latin for some prehistoric creature. But it's actually a 67-foot-tall blue and white crane that picks up and sets down shipping containers at the State Ports Authority's new "inland" port in the Upstate.
The machinery moniker comes courtesy of Fermin Redondo, a fifth-grader at Crestview Elementary School in Greer. Fermin was among 200 Upstate students who entered a port-sponsored contest to name five pieces of lifting equipment at the SPA facility.
The other winning entries:
Atlas, from Ashley Sell, a fourth-grader at Woodland Elementary School.
Billy Bob Blue, from Annika Smallwood, a fourth-grader at Skyland Elementary.
GRRRR, from Levi Turner, a third-grader at Chandler Creek Elementary School.
Iron Spider, from Amelia Cowart, a third-grader at Buena Vista Elementary School.
The names will be painted on the equipment, and the winners were awarded $500 from the SPA for their schools.
It's a longstanding tradition for the state maritime agency to recruit students to name its symbolic cranes.
Some examples at the Port of Charleston are Big Momma Blue, Captain Hook, Daddy Long Legs and Wando Work Horse.
Back in business
South Carolina's former top insurance regulator has retuned to the private sector.
Starr Insurance Holdings Inc. said it has hired Eleanor Kitzman as vice president with "broad regulatory, management and operational responsibilities across the company's domestic and international businesses."
During her time in South Carolina, Kitzman was best known as the TV pitchwoman for her Driver's Choice Insurance business.
She went on to become director of the S.C. Department of Insurance and executive director of the state Budget and Control Board. She left the state in 2011 to become insurance commissioner in Texas for Gov. Rick Perry.
"I look forward to utilizing both my public and private sector experience to assist the company in continuing its remarkable growth and performance trajectory." Kitzman said in a written statement.
Her boss at New York-based Starr is well-known among Wall Street types: Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg was CEO of American International Group Inc. from 1967 until March 2005. The feisty 88-year-old insurance veteran named his new venture after AIG's founder, Cornelius Vander Starr.