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Apartment construction continues across the Charleston region and a new study finds that rental rates dropped for the first time in two years. File/Staff

For the first time in two years, rents across the nation and in Charleston and North Charleston dropped in September, if ever so slightly, according to a new report from RentCafe.

Nationally, the average rental rate eked out a $1 decrease to $1,471 a month, the first decline since February 2017 when average rates were $1,346, the California-based property management software firm found.

In Charleston, the average monthly rent dipped to $1,364, down 0.2 percent from August, while in North Charleston, rental rates dropped 1.5 percent to an average of $1,067, according to RentCafe.

The only other South Carolina city mentioned on the report was Columbia, where the rental rate inched up 0.4 percent to $1,076, a bit higher than in North Charleston.

It's interesting to note, too, that it costs less to rent in Charlotte than it does in the city of Charleston. The report puts the average rental rate in the Queen City at $1,243, down 0.1 percent in September.

Last year, rental rates were projected to fall slightly this year because of the glut of new apartments coming on the market throughout the region. More are on the way, especially on Charleston's upper peninsula.

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The mixed-use 10 WestEdge building at Spring Street and Lockwood Drive includes apartments and a Publix supermarket. About 30 percent of its 350 units have been leased after it opened in the spring. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Filling up

One of the new WestEdge apartment buildings is 95 percent occupied while the newest offering has leased 30 percent of its units.

Caroline, the first WestEdge development off Lockwood Drive and Fishburne Street on the Charleston peninsula near the Ashley River, has residents in 224 of its 237 units, according to officials with the developing mixed-use real estate project.

Meanwhile, the newest apartment offering called 10 WestEdge, where Publix supermarket operates on the ground floor, has leased 104 of its 350 units.

Leasing managers estimate that well over half of the two buildings' new residents work or attend school at the nearby Medical University of South Carolina.

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“If you find yourself outside of our building during heavy commute times, it’s evident where everyone is headed — and nearly everyone is commuting over to MUSC on foot or on two wheels,” said Ed Schellenger, community manager at The Caroline.

WestEdge Foundation CEO Michael Maher said the vision of a walkable and bikeable community where people live close to where they work, study and shop is becoming a reality.

“These residential trends are an effective response to concerns about congestion and traffic, heightening the need for a district like WestEdge in the Charleston area,” Maher said.

The next structure in the WestEdge development, an eight-story office building called 22 WestEdge, is set to open early next year beside 10 WestEdge. It will include shops on the ground floor and the Charleston Harbour Club on the seventh floor.  

When completed, the 60-acre development will encompass 3 million square feet of new construction between MUSC and Joe Riley Stadium.

 

Reach Warren L. Wise at 843-937-5524. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.