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Carnival ties another anchor to its Charleston cruise schedule

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Another month, another delay.

Carnival Cruise Line said last week it will not return to the seas until June at the earliest.

The next voyage of its Sunshine cruise ship from Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston has now been pushed to June 3 — a four-day sailing to Carnival's private Half Moon Cay island in the Bahamas.

This is at least the 10th time the Miami-based leisure operator has extended its hiatus since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down pleasure trips from U.S. ports nearly a year ago.

"We continue to work on plans to resume operations and are encouraged by the focus to expedite vaccine production and distribution which are having a demonstrated impact on improving public health,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement.

"We appreciate the support of all of our guests, employees and trade partners who we know are looking forward to our return."

As it has done throughout the pause, Carnival is providing guests on cruises that have been canceled the choice of a future cruise credit plus an onboard credit package or a full refund.

Nexans plant in Goose Creek (copy) (copy)

The Nexans plant in Goose Creek has spent $200 million on an expansion that will let it build high-voltage underwater cables for the wind power industry. Nexans/Provided

A mighty wind

A French company that makes underwater electric cables in Goose Creek is sizing up the wind conditions from an economic standpoint.

In a letter to the Bureau of Energy Management, Nexans asked the agency to upgrade the financial benefits of a New York wind-power project to "major" from "minor." It said the federal agency underestimated the impact the proposed South Fork Wind Farm — and all wind farms, for that matter — could have on jobs and spending.

"Based on actual experience in Europe, this industry can be expected to trigger the creation of thousands of jobs, revitalize port communities, create a U.S. supply chain and invest billions in the United States economy," Emmanuel Martin-Lauzer, director of business development for the Nexans plant in Berkeley County, wrote to the bureau.

"A study by the American Wind Energy Association from March 2020 states that the U.S. offshore wind (industry) could support up to 83,000 jobs and $25 billion per year in economic output by 2030," Martin-Lauzer wrote.

His letter was in response to the bureau's draft environmental impact statement for the wind farm.

Nexans is investing $200 million to upgrade its manufacturing site adjacent to the Cooper River at the Charleston International Manufacturing Center. The facility produces submarine cables in unbroken lengths of up to 50 miles. Nexans also is building special ships to load the cables at its dock before steaming to locations worldwide.

Nexans said one of those locations could be the South Fork project about 35 miles east of Montauk Point on Long Island. The wind farm with 15 turbines will deliver power to the town of East Hampton, N.Y.

"The decisions that will be made in the coming months by regulatory agencies are key to the future and the economic viability of the offshore wind industry in the U.S.," Martin-Lauzer wrote. "When all externalities are considered, this industry will be one of the major components for a durable, sustainable, and economic energy mix that will be needed to power our economy into the future."

Visionary transaction

A Charleston-area vision-care practice with nine locations around the region has unloaded some of its owner-occupied real estate holdings in the blink of an eye.

Affiliates of Carolina Eyecare Physicians recently sold four of its offices to a single buyer for a combined $12.1 million, according to Charleston County land records.

The new landlord is Nashville, Tenn.-based Montecito Medical Real Estate. The purchases appear to be the first investments in the South Carolina market for the Music City company, according to its website.

Montecito's priciest acquisition among the four was a standalone Mount Pleasant building at 1101 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., a.k.a Clarity Lane. It fetched more than $4.8 million. The other Carolina Eyecare offices to change hands are on Tricom Street in North Charleston and Charlie Hall Boulevard in West Ashley. 

Privately held Montecito said it’s has been investing in commercial real estate owned and occupied by physician groups for 15 years. Typically, the sellers lease back their spaces.

“We pioneered a unique model that treats sellers of medical office properties as long-term partners rather than mere participants in a transaction. We help them unlock the financial potential of their real estate," the company said.

Hyatt House

A Charleston developer recently opened a Hyatt House Capitol-University hotel in Tallahassee, Fla. Provided

Capital idea

The capital of the Sunshine State has landed some capital from a Charleston-based real estate developer.

Mountain Shore Properties opened the doors to its newly built Hyatt House in Tallahassee about two weeks ago in the panhandle city’s Railroad Square Art District. The five-story, extended-stay property has 120 guestrooms, including 77 with full kitchens, along with most of the other traditional lodging amenities, such as a pool, fitness center, meeting rooms and retail space.

Mountain Shore, which is based in The Refinery development on Meeting Street Road and has roots in West Virginia, said Tallahassee "offers a unique and dynamic mix of government, university and business interests," noting that it’s home to the Legislature, Florida State University and Florida A&M University.

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"We think the demand for travel in the back half of 2021 is going to be extremely strong," CEO Stephen Wendell said in a statement. "The underlying demand generators, pre-COVID 19, still exist and show no signs of stopping. The fact is that some aspects of business travel can’t be done virtually. It is my belief and hope that we are going to be in a far different world come summer."

Mountain Shore's most recent hotel project in the Charleston region also flies the Hyatt House flag. It opened in 2019 near the Midtown development along Hungryneck Boulevard in Mount Pleasant

VA Pharmacy_008.JPG (copy) (copy) (copy)

Pill bottles move on a conveyor system through the VA's former Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy on Rivers Avenue. File/Lauren Petracca/Staff

Big VA-rma

A landlord for a local Department of Veterans Affairs outpost is feeling pretty upbeat about its decision to buy the agency's new local mail-based pharmacy last year.

The drug distribution hub in North Charleston was one of the highlights of Easterly Government Properties Inc.’s quarterly call with investors last week as CEO William Trimble summarized the firm’s 2020 acquisitions.

The Washington D.C.-based landlord, which invests in real estate leased to federal agencies, made its latest local purchase in early November. It paid a private development group $17 million for a new 97,718-square-foot warehouse in North Charleston that’s now serving as the VA’s new Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy.

The medication clearinghouse is on an 8.6-acre site in an industrial park between Ladson and Ashley Phosphate roads. It replaced a smaller, outdated distribution center the VA had operated on Rivers Avenue.

Easterly pointed out to analysts last week that the federal government “has demonstrated its long-term commitment to this location” by inking a lease that expires in September 2040 and can’t be canceled. Also, the company noted that the VA has invested heavily in the property, which generates slightly north of $1.38 million in annual rental revenue, or about $14.16 per square foot.

The veterans agency was running six pharmacies that use the mail to deliver prescriptions when it expanded the concept to South Carolina in 1997 in a former Kmart store. In recent years, as many as 26 million orders for VA patients were filled in North Charleston, which is one of only two locations authorized to handle controlled substances.

Easterly has previously said the new pharmacy site would run on a two-shift schedule, each staffed by about 190 workers

Locally, the real estate company also owns the partly historic federal courthouse annex in downtown Charleston. It paid $24 million for the Broad Street property in 2018. Previously, Easterly shelled out $25 million for the Faber Place building that houses the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s offices in North Charleston. Combined, the two properties generate more than $6 million in annual rental income.

Myrtle Beach International Airport

Myrtle Beach International Airport ranks second or third, depending on seasonality, among South Carolina's busier airports. Provided 

Taking off

One of South Carolina's busiest airports is drawing some fly-by looks.

Myrtle Beach International was voted the "Best Small Airport" in the 2021 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards.

The annual awards highlight overachievers in the travel industry. Nominees are chosen by a panel of experts in conjunction with 10Best editors. The top 10 were determined by vote over four weeks in January.

"The airport team is incredibly proud of this win," said Scott Van Moppes, director. "This title places MYR in the national spotlight, allowing the rest of the country to see why our airport is a favorite among travelers and continually growing in popularity." 

Back in the office

The CEO of one of South Carolina's largest publicly traded companies is back on the job after a month-long brush with COVID-19.

John D. Williams returned to the corner office at Fort Mill-based paper and packaging giant Domtar Corp. on March 1 after a medical leave of absence that was announced Jan. 29.

In the interim, company finance chief Daniel Buron had been pulling double duty as chief executive.

Williams made it back in time to announce the closing of Domtar’s previously announced sale of its personal care division to American Industrial Partners under a plan to refocus on its paper, pulp and packaging businesses. The proceeds from the $920 million deal will be used to pay down debt and buy back stock.

Williams has been president and CEO for 12 years at Domtar, which traces its roots to an English company that was started in 1848. Its name is taken from the former Dominion Tar and Chemical Co. Ltd. After this week’s divestment, the company's global payroll fell by about 2,100 to about 6,600 workers at 50 sites. 

Pollo Campero

Dallas-based chicken restaurant chain Pollo Campero wants to expand into the South Carolina market, including the Charleston area, with 10 locations. Pollo Campero means "country chicken." Pollo Campero/Provided

Game of chicken

A Lone Star State dining chain that pushes poultry is eyeing the South Carolina market. 

Dallas-based Pollo Campero said it's aiming to open 10 franchise locations in the state over the next five years, including the Charleston area.

The chain — the name is Spanish for "country chicken" — got its start in Guatemala in 1971 as a family-owned operation. Its recipes include fried, citrus grilled and extra crunchy chicken offerings along with side items.

The restaurant operator currently has 77 locations in operation or development in 19 states in the U.S. and 400 worldwide, but wants to add 250 new sites nationwide. For now, it has no presence in the Palmetto State.

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