Developer plans new home for industry

The first building at Charleston Trade Center along Interstate 26 in Summerville is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

A North Carolina developer hopes to lure a mix of large manufacturers and warehouse businesses to an industrial park that’s just starting to take shape along U.S. Interstate 26 in Berkeley County.

The project kicked off Tuesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Charleston Trade Center, between Summerville and Jedburg on the eastbound side of the highway.

The Keith Corp. of Charlotte and its financial partner, Singerman Real Estate of Chicago, are investing $19 million to launch the first phase — a 307,350-square-foot shell building that’s being developed on a speculative basis, without a tenant in hand.

The plan is to lease or sell the entire space to one business, said Alan Lewis, industrial development partner for The Keith Corp.

The first building is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. It can be expanded later to more than 923,000 square feet, according to plans.

“We want to see something happen here sooner rather than later,” Lewis said Tuesday.

In all, the new business park will cost about $175 million and house up to six large, modern industrial buildings. The biggest would top 1.3 million square feet, which Lewis said “is hard to find in this market.”

The project is starting in tandem with work on the nearby Sheep Island Interchange less than half a mile down I-26 from the Charleston Trade Center site.

“We feel that is going to be phenomenal for access to this park,” Lewis said.

The real estate project is being driven in large part by the anticipated growth at the Port of Charleston, as well as the presence of large manufacturers in the region, from the Volvo car factory being built farther up I-26 near Ridgeville to the Boeing 787 campus in North Charleston.

“It’s in a strong location,” said Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter, who added that the speculative nature of the project’s first phase is “a great indicator of the health of our market.”

Nelson Lindsay, director of global business development at S.C. Commerce Department, said it’s a major advantage to be able to show executives and their consultants finished properties rather than building plans.

“If you want to be competitive, you have to have existing buildings ready to go when they start their search,” Lindsay said.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572.