The sounds of hammers and power saws are expected be more intense at apartment sites in the Charleston region than in any other corner of the nation.
A new report by multifamily website ApartmentGuide.com projects that the area will see an 8 percent growth in new rental construction this year from 2013. That's stronger than any other part of the nation, including Boston and Birmingham, Ala., which are expected to see 5 percent growth each, according to the website's data.
Catherine Hontz, senior market sales manager for ApartmentGuide.com, said the Charleston region's growth is tied in part to the expanding job market with prominent names like Boeing Co. The aerospace giant employs about 7,000 workers at its North Charleston plant and committed last year to hire 2,000 by 2020.
Other large employers include Benefitfocus, a Daniel Island-based software firm that announced last year plans to add 1,200 technology jobs to the region.
"It's not just that, though. You also have to remember that there are different generations of renters now," Hontz said. "You have those who are just getting their first jobs, and those generations like the millennials don't want to own real estate."
ApartmentGuide.com's report was compiled from subscribed data and information from the firm's local agents, Hontz said.
She predicted the Charleston region's apartment growth should continue for years, growing by double-digits from today's roughly 30,000 units.
Developers like Charleston-based Greystar, one of the nation's largest apartment owners and managers, say local population growth and the diversifying employment market are fueling the boom.
"Charleston has always had a great lifestyle, but never had opportunities for young professionals to stay in town until now," said Todd Wigfield, managing director of development at Greystar, which is working with The Post and Courier's parent company on a project at Meeting and Columbus streets. "There were people struggling to stay here, and now we have the opportunities here. It's tech jobs, and it's not just Boeing."
The region also getting lift from various groups and publications that promote Charleston's quality of life nationally and internationally.
"It's a great place to live and now it's on everybody's map," Wigfield said.
A September report by the research firm Real Data said about 3,700 apartment units were in various stages of development in the region. Some of those projects include Riviera at Seaside in Mount Pleasant, Simmons Park on Daniel Island, and Mixson apartments in North Charleston's Park Circle area.
Earlier this month, the 42-unit Cornerstone Apartment Homes opened in the former Kerrisons department store building in the heart of downtown Charleston's shopping district.
A September report by real estate firm Colliers International said that apartment occupancy rates above 90 percent, triggering an imbalance in supply and demand.
That has meant rising monthly rents and new apartments added to the pipeline.
Also, more investors looking to get a foothold in the market.
Among them is PRG Real Estate Management, which purchased the former Churchill Common Apartments in Summerville last year. The Philadelphia-based firm has said it is looking to grow its portfolio with more properties in the local area.
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