Charleston’s retail real estate market improves in Q4, 2012

Staff Report
Published Feb. 7, 2013

The fourth quarter of 2012 helped Charleston’s retail real estate market gain ground on the year with positive absorption of 85,000 square feet of space. Regional retail vacancy dropped to 6.9% for the quarter, according to data from Lincoln Harris.

Larger transactions included Rooms to Go Kids’ lease of 31,000 square feet at the North Pointe Plaza, DD’s Discount’s lease of 25,200 square feet in the North Charleston Center and Southern Season leasing 31,700 square feet at the former Food Lion space in Mount Pleasant.

The large transactions contributed significantly to the drop in metro vacancy rates while smaller tenants remained static throughout last year’s election season and “fiscal cliff” debate, the report said.

Lincoln Harris noted rental rates in suburban markets remained flat despite a decline in vacancy rates. The company anticipates rates will rise this year as tenants’ confidence increases and demand for space continues.

Colliers International reported year-end figures, which also showed flat rental rates and declining vacancy in both downtown and suburban markets.

Suburban vacancies dropped from 9.2% in 2011 to 8.2% in 2012. Colliers attributed the loss to an increase in local retailers opening shops with newly available financing. Big-box retailers kept suburban rental rates lower than the rates found downtown — the average suburban rate was $15.46 per square foot.

The downtown vacancy was 3.03% for 2012 with the average rental rate at $35 per square foot.

Colliers International’s report showed national retailers entering the market for the first time including Kate Spade, Hobby Lobby, Garden Ridge, Colonial Candle and Anthropologie.

Retail is expected to continue to grow, fueled by the tourism industry and the success of Boeing and the technology sector, the report said.

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