Whether downtown, North Charleston or in the suburbs, real estate markets for retail and office space are in a growth mode this spring.
So says the local outlet of NAI Avant commercial brokerage, which compiled the findings in various economic updates over the past several weeks.
"Despite an abnormally harsh winter, new development emerging across the region shows no indication of fatigue in the near future," says David Grubbs, managing principal of NAI Avant's Charleston office, speaking about the retail sector.
On the office front, "The Boeing effect continues to drive many of the first quarter events," he says.
According to Grubbs, the Lowcountry kept pace with the steadily recovering U.S. commercial real estate market in the first quarter. It also matched the Southeast's "uptick" in retail business and the nation's rise in shopping center occupancies and drop in vacancy rates.
Rather than rebounding from a low point, the Charleston retail market continued "on a positive trend" into this spring.
Grubbs cited visitors, locals and newcomers as contributing to the sales growth.
"The area's reputation as a hot national and international tourist destination is continually validated by a stack of . accolades and a booming . hospitality industry," he says.
The numbers tell a story: Metro Charleston draws more than 4 million visitors a year, Grubbs says, which works out to close to 11,000 a day. To keep up with demand, more than 2,500 hotel rooms are under construction or planned for the region in the next few years, he adds.
"The buzz surrounding the area does not stop with tourists, however, as evidenced by the abundance of regional and national tenants expanding into the Charleston retail market," Grubbs notes.
Much of the growth takes place downtown. "Dotted with an abundance of construction cranes and scaffolding," peninsula Charleston has cemented its role as a benchmark for the area's rapid growth, he says.
Grubbs highlighted a few developments underway, such as:
. Midtown Charleston, anchored by Hyatt House and Hyatt Place and to include four new structures and two renovated buildings totaling at least 433,000 square feet. It should be finished by 2015 bringing an extra 16,000 square feet of street-level retail space to the area.
. Redevelopment at King and Calhoun streets, with Walgreen's as the disclosed anchor tenant and Chipotle Mexican Grill and Carolina Ale House slated to open locations to create an "urban retail market" feel.
"Locals, students and tourists alike will benefit from this new gathering spot at the cornerstone of King Street," Grubbs says.
According to the managing principal, North Charleston has also developed as a rapidly-expanding shopping sector locally.
Located on Dorchester Road, the Corner at Wescott plaza with Harris Teeter as anchor has added a 24,000-square-foot Marshalls clothing store along with Moe's Southwest Grill, Pet Supplies Plus, Rack Room Shoes and Hallmark.
"The high demand for this new space clearly demonstrates that retailers are back in growth mode and that timing is right for new development projects," Grubbs says.
Maybe the biggest single disclosure involves Bass Pro Shops. The national outdoor-recreation chain expects to build an up to 150,000 square foot store in the "thriving" Ingleside Plantation development at Interstate 26 and U.S. Highway 78.
Grubbs predicts the Charleston area retail market "will continue to show signs of growth throughout the year and stay highly attractive to both regional and national tenants."
At the same time, office projects are cropping up and tenants filling spots - most notably in outlying areas, Grubbs says.
"The greater Charleston office market remained relatively healthy throughout the first quarter of 2014," he says. "Many of the established office clusters such as downtown Charleston and Faber Place/Leeds Avenue saw higher rates and positive absorption."
Grubbs singled out aircraft giant Boeing, which has expanded from its central base at Charleston International Airport.
Specifically, the company leased 52,000 square feet in two buildings within Faber Place at I-526 in North Charleston and another 40,000 square feet on Corporate Road. The leases stemmed in part from Boeing's plans to add 600 information technology jobs in the area.
It isn't just Boeing sparking the office space surge. "Healthcare also is driving new activity," he says. MUSC leased close to 13,000 square feet in Mount Pleasant at the East Cooper Medical Arts Center and local healthcare provider Palmetto Primary Care broke ground on a medical campus within MeadWestvaco's 5,000-acre Nexton master planned community in Summervile.
On the Charleston peninsula, Evening Post Industries, parent company of The Post and Courier, revealed plans for the first phase of Courier Square at Meeting and
Columbus streets. "This mixed-use project is estimated to cost $84 million and bring with it up to 50,000 square feet of Class A office space," Grubbs says.
Also Holder Properties developed 54,000 square feet at 174 Meeting Street with CertusBank as anchor tenant. Holder Properties has been particularly active in office development for several years, Grubbs says.
NAI Avant, founded in 1966, is headquartered in Columbia with an office in Charleston. As a member of the NAI Global Network, the company is affiliated with more than 400 offices and 5,000 professionals in 55 countries worldwide. To find out more about NAI Avant, visit www.naiavant.com.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Corner at Wescott shopping center on Dorchester Road opened early this year with Harris Teeter as the first major player. Several other stores, including Marshall’s clothing store, have opened since then (Provided).×