Archive for March, 2008


New Industrial Parks for Columbia?

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New industrial areas proposed to attract jobs

March 29, 2008


Lexington County needs to set aside new areas for industrial parks to attract jobs, a consultant is recommending.

Six existing industrial parks — the largest of which is 175 acres — is inadequate, Strategic Development Group president Mark Williams told County Council members this week.

His plan comes after a recent report said steady growth has sent the county’s industrial vacancy rate to less than 1 percent.

Making several sites available would make the county a magnet by giving developers choices on location, he said.

“You really need this pipeline of sites,” Williams said.

The expansion would be largely speculative but most of the sites would fill gradually, he predicted.

Larger sites than those available now will be attractive for data collection centers as well as traditional manufacturers and warehouses, he said.

It is becoming difficult to find suitable sites ready to build on quickly, said Chuck Salley, a partner in commercial real estate company Colliers Keenan.

A selection of sites is “a great thing to have in your quiver,” he said.

Key suggestions from Williams include:

• Open one or two new parks between 500 acres and 1,200 acres along with an undetermined number of small ones.

• Concentrate new areas near I-20 and I-26.

• Make the 12th Street Extension corridor near Cayce a home for corporate headquarters.

No price tag was put on the plan.

But land acquisition and addition of roads and utility service make the expansion proposed a multi-million dollar effort, council members said.

Council members aren’t committed to the plan yet.

But Councilman Smokey Davis of Lexington, who oversees economic development, likes many of its idea.

“Its a mix of ideas that a road map to accomplish and achieve many things we are interested in,” he said.


With an industrial vacancy rate below 5%, Columbia certainly needs to be concerned about having facilities available for economic development prospects.

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ICSC Forum on Vacant Big Boxes Coming to Greenville

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Filling up ‘big (empty) boxes’
Shopping center group is promoting new uses for old retail buildings

March 30, 2008

By Angelia Davis

A forum in Greenville will help educate governmental employees, developers and retailers about state-sponsored incentives for reusing vacant big-box facilities and shopping centers.

“Greyfields to Goldfields: Reusing Empty ‘Big Box’ Stores,” a program sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers, will be held April 15 at Larkin’s on the River.

The forum will invite discussion on the Retail Facilities Revitalization Act, which state legislators approved in 2006 to “create a meaningful incentive for the renovation, improvements, and redevelopment of abandoned retail facility sites” in South Carolina.

The law offers the option of a 25 percent credit against real property taxes or a 10 percent state income tax credit.

“We want to talk about the legislation, we want to talk about the opportunity it presents, but we also want to hear from the audience about what maybe some of their challenges are in implementing the legislation,” said Cynthia Stewart, director of community relations for the ICSC.

“Maybe we could help them find some solutions or perhaps it’s something that needs to be revisited, but we want to have that conversation.”

Howard Duvall, executive director of the S.C. Municipal Association, said big-box vacancies are a hot topic with cities in every state. “They want to know what to do with the old abandoned buildings, be it a strip mall or empty retail space.”

Duvall said empty retail spaces become a nuisance problem particularly with growth. That can happen when a large retailer comes in, starts off small and then builds a larger facility nearby, leaving behind a space of perhaps 40,000 square feet, he said.

“Finding reuses for these is not easy,” he said. The ICSC forum, offered in partnership with the state Municipal Association and the International Economic Development Council, should “give the people who attend a good idea on how they can use the new Retail Facilities Revitalization Act to get these big boxes rehabbed and occupied again,” Duvall said.

Stewart said some cities have a vibrant retail environment and that makes it easier for them to get their spaces filled than some other communities.

Such may be the case for parts of the Upstate, which has seen a drop in big-box retail vacancy rates for single tenant and owner-occupied properties greater than 20,000 square feet.

The vacancy rate for the Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson and Easley area was at 6.5 percent in fourth quarter 2007, down from 7.9 percent in fourth quarter 2006 and 10.1 percent in 2005, according to Grubb & Ellis/The Furman Co.

“In the past few years, we’ve seen some of those big boxes we expected to have to be scrapped becoming viable options for potential tenants that are willing to work and be flexible with the site,” said Brian Reed, research manager for The Furman Co.

Reed said retailers are not only moving into vacant big boxes, they’re rebranding them and making them fit their own retail. Among some of the best examples of this, he said, are the reuse of Lowe’s on Roper Mountain Road by the Jeff Lynch Appliance & TV Center and Peak Fitness’ use of the former Best Buy on Laurens Road.

“That’s a trend we may see going forward. Once it works in one location, they know that because of the consistent branding of the other location of that original retailer, they’ll be able to make that work in another location without a lot of additional work,” Reed said.

Retailers and developers occupying or filling empty spaces may be doing so without the benefit of the state’s offering of tax credits.

North Charleston is among the areas in the state where the retail revitalization act has been utilized. The bill, which requires a local government’s approval, has not yet been used by Greenville County, said Bob Mihalic, county spokesman.

Stewart said the legislation might not be widely known. And, she said, some public officials find the legislation’s square footage limitation “somewhat challenging.”

“You may have an empty grocery store that doesn’t meet the threshold of the bill, but for a small community to have that empty box in their town is a big deal,” she said.

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South Carolina Property Tax Update

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The South Carolina Association of REALTORS has done an excellent job of monitoring the impact of the changes in the property tax laws that were effective January 1, 2007. The following is an excerpt from a recent e-mail newsletter.

Recent changes to the property tax assessment structure in South Carolina have had some negative consequences on the real estate market, particularly along the coast and in the commercial market. Point-of-sale assessment is an issue that must be addressed, as there are some very serious inequities created in the market by point-of-sale. SCR is working with Representative Bill Cotty, House Ways and Means Property Tax Subcommittee Chairman, on a bill that addresses point-of-sale assessment for property tax purposes. This bill will not affect the property tax relief provided to owner-occupied homes or make any changes to the way owner-occupied homes are classified under SC property tax laws.

The Ways and Means Committee, the committee that will consider the bill, has been occupied with writing the state budget since early January. The House gave approval to the budget the week before last. With that behind them, the committee can focus on other legislative issues. We will be meeting with Representative Cotty this week to finalize the language. As soon as that is done, we can begin the legislative process and have the bill considered by the subcommittee.

I agree wholeheartedly with the SCAR position of the property tax law. If I can answer any questions on the law, and it’s consequences, please give me a call at 803-772-8282 ext 110.


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New Apartments for Myrtle Beach

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More apartments on way at old base

March 29, 2008

More apartments are on the way for the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

Trammell Crow Residential, an Atlanta-based real estate firm, is building 288 apartments near the intersection of U.S. 17 Bypass and Farrow Parkway.

Crews are doing site work on the roughly 30-acre tract the firm bought from Withers Preserve developers RWO Acquisitions, said Robert Morgan, managing director for the Trammell Crow’s S.C. division. Developers expect the roughly $30 million complex, called Alexan Withers Preserve, to be finished in 2009.

Myrtle Beach’s growth and the urban village concept on the former base are what attracted Trammell Crow to the area.

“We’re obviously extremely impressed with The Market Common,” Morgan said. “We’re very impressed with the work that RWO Acquisitions is doing and the type of community they’re constructing – a walkable, neotraditional neighborhood.”

Developers aim to make it an upscale community with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 780 square feet to 1,260 square feet. Rent will average about 90 cents per square foot, Morgan said.

Amenities will include a clubhouse with a swimming pool, gym, billiards room, cyber cafe and garages.

Real estate investment firm Phoenix Capital Partners has teamed up with Trammell Crow on the project. RBC Centura is providing the construction financing.

Morgan said the new complex fits into the master plan for Withers Preserve, a 3,970-acre housing and retail development being built on the former base.
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Few Sales in Charleston Real Estate Auction

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Lots of real estate, but few buyers

March 29, 2008

By Katy Stech
The Post and Courier

Real estate broker and cable TV personality Richard C. Davis’ much-promoted real estate auction at the Francis Marion Hotel started out on a high note.

For a mere $7,500, a buyer snatched up a lot on Daufuskie Island that sits on the 10th fairway of the Haig Point golf course.

But the owners of the following 48 properties weren’t so lucky. Despite heavily discounted sale prices, none found buyers during the auction, dubbed the “Liquidation Sensation.”

While the final results were not available late Friday, only five of the first 100 properties sold during the event.

No one bid on eight condominiums in the Sable on the Marsh subdivision near Folly Beach, even after the opening bid for the first unit was lowered steadily to $250,000 from $300,000. A stately Newberry home listed on the National Register of Historic Places failed to secure a low bid at $100,000. And a wet slip at Ripley Light Marina on the Ashley River got no takers at $25,000.

But despite the lack of bids, Davis said he was satisfied.

The auction sales didn’t count what his real estate company, Trademark Properties, sold before the event, he said. And it doesn’t include any deals his agents might work out in the next few days, as some sellers decide to lower their prices even more or as investors regret not bidding, he said.

“We’re still putting the buyers and sellers together,” he said. “We might not get a bid in 38 seconds, but you plant a seed in 38 seconds.”

Real estate auctions are supposed to help move properties during a slow market because they link desperate sellers, who willingly discount their price below its current listing, with qualified buyers and investors, who know a good real estate opportunity when they see one.

Davis, host of “The Real Deal” on the TLC network, said his auction helped generate interest in South Carolina real estate and create some much-needed momentum.

Still, he likened the scene inside the hotel’s ballroom to a school dance, where youngsters on either side of the room want to kick up their heels but no one is gutsy enough to make the first move.

The three dozen auction attendees sparsely filled the neat rows of tables, though more prospective buyers watched the event online. Each paid about $500 to attend.

Most of the properties up for auction in Charleston were unoccupied luxury homes on or near the water. Properties located inland ranged from industrial-zoned lots to highway convenience stores to modest starter homes.

The silence in the ballroom during the first batch of bids was palpable.

By Lot 25, the auctioneer tried offering every property at $5,000 and working his way up. The first few times that tactic produced bids, but the audience never escalated the price up to the minimum threshold, and most sales were called off.

The price for a two-story home near downtown Summerville, which was built by the property’s listing agent, started at $210,000. With no bids forthcoming, bid caller John Davis, brother of Richard Davis, went to $200,000, then $195,000, then $185,000.

Organizers stopped the bidding to pull up a picture of the property.

“They really want to sell it, guys,” John Davis said to the audience.

At $165,000, it didn’t sell, and he moved on to the next property.

Randy Wallace, a Myrtle Beach investor, left two hours into the bidding after several of his properties failed to stir interest among the buyers. He and his partners had tried to sell their extra inventory — two wooded lots on Murrells Inlet, a custom-built home in Conway and 29 home sites in suburban Myrtle Beach — at an earlier auction, so he said he wasn’t surprised by the results of the Trademark auction.

“I came here with no expectations,” Wallace said.

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Soccer at Greenville’s White Horse Plaza?

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White Horse Plaza considers mixing soccer, shopping

About 15 teams express interest in indoor soccer hall, outdoor fields

March 29, 2008

By Angelia Davis

An indoor soccer hall and outdoor soccer fields are additions being considered for White Horse Plaza shopping center by its new California-based owners.

White Horse Plaza LLC of Newport Beach recently purchased the 170,950-square foot shopping center for $7 million, according to Greenville County real estate records.

Sam Ivey, a real estate advisor for Sperry Van Ness, one of the nation’s largest commercial brokerage firms, said the new owners plan to improve the property, including remodeling the signage and repaving the asphalt.

They will also be “building out and hopefully leasing” the rear portion of the former Wal-Mart store, said Ivey, who assisted in the sale of White Horse Plaza.

“They’re talking to multiple possible tenants about either doing a night club or a concert venue. We’ve even talked to a group that was talking about doing an indoor soccer league there because it’s a pretty big space,” he said.

The new owners are also looking at one or possibly two out parcels for the West Blue Ridge Drive side front of the property, Ivey said.

The property also includes 10 acres directly behind the shopping center that back up to a railroad. That area could potentially be cleared, graded, and leveled to accommodate soccer fields.

“With the heavy Latino population there, we’ve got literally 15 or 16 soccer teams that wanted to have access to such a place because apparently there are not any nearby county fields or parks for them to play on. So, it could be a good fit for them, as well as draw some traffic to the shopping center,” Ivey said.

Located at 6119 White Horse Road, White Horse Plaza was built in 1988 and sits on 30.51 acres of land, according to Sperry Van Ness.

Years ago, Wal-Mart and a Winn-Dixie grocery store anchored the center. In 1999, Wal-Mart moved into the new White Horse Commons shopping center on the opposite site of the highway. Winn-Dixie and other businesses departed shortly thereafter.

White Horse Associates, a group of Atlanta investors, purchased the plaza in 2001. They redeveloped the shopping center and leased to new tenants.

The center is 96.45 percent occupied, according to Sperry Van Ness.

Fred’s, New China Super Buffet, Citi Trends, and Dollar General are in portions of the former Wal-Mart store. But the rear of the store, more than 30,000 square feet has remained vacant since Wal-Mart left, Ivey said.

“When you look at it from the front, it looks like a full shopping center. But there is a suite between Fred’s and JC Hair Land that actually provides access on the storefront side (of the old Wal-Mart) to the rear of the Wal-Mart space which is quite large,” Ivey said.

“Its use really does lend itself to a concert venue, a nightclub venue, or indoor soccer,” he said. “It’s a big open hall back there.”

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Myrtle Beach’s The Market Common Prepares to Open

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Stores at The Market Common prepare for opening

March 28, 2008

By Jessica Foster

Empty floors and display windows in shops at The Market Common are quickly filling up this week as workers deliver inventory.

The roughly 40 stores and restaurants in the shopping center are getting ready to open next week: training staff, stocking shelves and making last-minute preparations.

The Market Common is an urban village on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base that combines shops and restaurants with housing.

It brings a mix of national chains – such as White House Black Market and Brooks Brothers – and local shops including Xtreme Surf & Skateboard Co. and Ultimate California Pizza.

As for housing in the development, residents will likely be able to move into apartments above the stores in June, said The Market Common’s project manager, Buddy Styers.

This is a very impressive development. To learn more about it, check out the website:
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New Retail Center Planned for Sumter

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Hammond Development to Build South Carolina Retail Center

Spartanburg, S.C.-based Hammond Development is building Sumter Town Centre, a $3 million, 8,000-square-foot retail center in Sumter. Tenants include Firehouse Subs and Bruster’s ice cream shop. The center is situated on 1.4 acres at 1293 Broad St. Construction began in March, and the project is scheduled to deliver in July.

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New Stores at Greenville’s Shops at Greenridge

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J. Jill and Diamonds Choice moving in as White House/Black Market expands

March 28, 2008

By Angelia Davis

The shopping options for jewelry and women’s fashions will grow at The Shops at Greenridge with the opening of two new stores.

J. Jill, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Talbots Inc., and locally owned Diamonds Choice Inc. are set to become the newest tenants at The Shops on Woodruff Road.

White House/Black Market also will expand in the shopping center after it relocates into a larger, 3,501-square-foot space there in May, according to Crosland, developer of The Shops.

Megan Deblitz, leasing associate for Crosland, said, “These nationally recognized retailers further solidify the upscale lifestyle shopping offered at The Shops at Greenridge.”

The Shops at Greenridge is the second largest retail center in Greenville County and the fourth largest in the Upstate.

A $64 million venture, The Shops opened in 2005 and is currently home to nearly 50 national and local retailers or service providers.

A 9,540-square-foot retail building was added in front of Lowe’s last fall.

J. Jill and White House/Black Market will be the first tenants in that new addition, according to Beth Doughty, spokeswoman for Crosland.

Diamonds Choice will fill the space now occupied by White House/Black Market, she said.

Diamonds Choice will close at its Orchard Drive location when it moves to The Shops, said the store’s co-owner, Robin Newton.

Also owned by Newton’s wife, Margaret Newton, Diamonds Choice has been in Greenville for 10 years. The store is an “offshoot” of Phillips Jewelers, which operated in Greenville for 58 years and was owned by Mrs. Newton’s parents, Newton said.

He describes the store’s new and larger future home as “the best location in all of Greenville. It’s a dream come true to be to out there and in the location where Greenridge is allowing us to locate.”

The Shops will offer Dia´monds Choice greater visibility in an upscale setting, Newton said.

Diamonds Choice should open in The Shops in July.

J. Jill will make its debut in the Upstate when it opens in The Shops in June.

The store will occupy a 3,399-square-foot space.

J. Jill is based in Massachusetts. Its only other South Carolina store is at the Columbiana Centre in Columbia.

White House/Black Market is a fully-owned subsidiary of Chico’s FAS Inc. in Fort Myers, Fla., according to its Web site.

The store features women’s clothing, lingerie, accessories, jewelry, and gifts exclusively in shades of black and white.
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Greenville Retail Market Overview

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Greenville’s retail market is expected to continue on the upswing as its stabilized housing market attracts residents, thus enticing developers to move forward with plans to build new retail centers. “Housing will continue to be priced realistically because the city has not seen the rampant speculation many other markets have experienced,” says Brian Reed, a research manager at Greenville-based Grubb & Ellis The Furman Co. “Also, the growing Greenville MSA, which recently eclipsed 1 million, will pique the interests of national and high-end retailers.” Last year, the city experienced more than $1 billion in retail sales. “Greenville is not one of the markets where you are going to see extreme highs and lows,” says Paul Aiesi, chief investment officer of Greenville-based TIC Properties. “It’s a stick market. A lot of [national] markets have seen 5 or 6 percent growth. We’ve seen 2 or 3 percent.”

New to downtown Greenville, McBee Station is a 14-acre urban mixed-use development featuring 80,000 square feet of retail and residences. The project, which opened in the second quarter of last year, created an opportunity to lease high-end space on Main Street in Greenville’s central business district and reintroduced national retailers to the downtown area. McBee Station’s tenants include Publix, Staples, Urban Nirvana Spa & Salon and Great Clips.

Also in the downtown area, TIC Properties is planning a mixed-use development on 2 acres at the intersection of Main and Washington streets. “This project is on the last major site on Main Street in downtown Greenville,” says Aiesi. “It’s known as the ‘Main on Main.’ We have successfully assembled a property that is the best location in the city to build a first class mixed-use project.” Currently in the preliminary planning phase, the project is projected to deliver in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Royal Palm Beach-based Menin Development acquired the Greenville Mall on Woodruff Rd., which had fallen out of favor due to consumer disinterest. A mixed-use lifestyle center, Magnolia Park Town Center, has been proposed in its place, which will include elements of retail, office and high-density residential development. The property’s tenants include Costco, Sports Authority, Old Navy and a Regal Cinemas theatre.

In nearby Spartanburg, The Avenue Easton Market Center is being developed by Centennial American Properties near Hillcrest Mall. Construction is expected to start this year on 500,000 square feet of retail space, in addition to 308 apartments and 140 single-family homes. The project is expected to open in the second half of 2009.

West of Greenville, a joint venture by Easley Commons Retail Associates and Commercial Development Associates will build Easley Town Center, a 125-acre development in the northeast quadrant intersection of Calhoun Memorial Highway and Prince Perry Road in Easley. The project will feature more than 500,000 square feet of retail, inclusive of two unnamed anchors measuring 200,000 and 70,000 square feet, respectively. Two additional phases are being planned for future development. The project is located on the former site of the Saco Lowell Plant, and involves a public-private partnership that will bring approximately $14 million in improvements to the infrastructure of corridors surrounding the project. Construction is slated to begin in early March and deliver in the second quarter of 2009.

Along Clemson Blvd. in Anderson, Realtylink is planning Midtowne Park, a 175,000-square-foot center that began construction in February and is expected to complete in the fall. Signed tenants include a 90,000-square-foot Kohl’s, Staples and a 50,000-square-foot sporting goods store.

Greenville also welcomed Costco to the area, with two new 150,000-square-foot stores on Woodruff Rd. in Greenville and the Westgate area of Spartanburg. Bi-Lo completed several renovations and opened two Super Bi-Lo concept grocery stores.

According to Reed, retailers will be closely monitoring national trends and consumer spending to determine the validity of long-term commitments in Greenville County, which is the most populous county in the state. Investor appetites are strong across the board, and many developers are betting on the city’s amiable retail climate to support future projects.

— Jia Gayles

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Greenville Office of Integra to Move

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My Greenville, South Carolina office will be relocating to southeast Greenville soon. We are excited about the move, and a special announcement that will be released in early April. I am very confident that clients will be very pleased with the upcoming announcements! During the transition, feel free to call me on my cell at (803) 960-8783 with questions or if I can assist with your appraisal needs.

Michael B. Dodds, MAI, CCIM, MRICS
Managing Partner
Integra Realty Resources – South Carolina

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Columbia Retail Market Overview

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South Carolina’s capital city kept a steady course with the arrival of new big box and grocery-anchored centers and the first phase of Sandhill Station, the new expansion of wildly successful Village at Sandhill. The city is expected to maintain its moderate retail climate as the nation heads into a period of economic uncertainty. “Occupancies have held in the 93 to 94 percent range,” says Rox Pollard, principal and manager of the retail services group for Colliers Keenan in Columbia. “We have not seen a downturn in retail on any level including strip variety or freestanding.” The city reported more than $47 million in capital investments last year and an increase in population and job growth. Colliers Keenan reported 291,626 square feet of big box and big box-anchored spaces were absorbed in the first half of last year, and prime retail space ranged from $17 to $35 per square foot due to escalating land and construction costs in new developments.

The largest player on Columbia’s retail stage is the Village at Sandhill by Columbia-based Kahn Development; the 300-acre behemoth has introduced more than 1 million square feet of retail to the city. The village/lifestyle concept has proven to be extremely popular, and was designated as a finalist for the 2007 International Council of Shopping Centers’ Design and Development Award for “best mixed-use retail center above 500,000 square feet.” The project is currently 70 percent complete, with the option to add approximately 300,000 square feet. “Vacancy rates have not been a problem,” says Alan Kahn, president of Kahn Development. “We are continuing to lease up our existing centers and have enjoyed pretty good occupancy. We haven’t seen any downturn yet. As far as rental rates, we are getting about the same as we have seen during the last two years.”

Kahn recently completed the first phase of Sandhill Station, a 220,000 square foot retail center on the 30 acres adjacent to the Village at Sandhill. The initial phase is a 17,000-square-foot specialty retail center tenanted by Family Christian Bookstore, Sleep King and CiCi’s Pizza. Kahn will also rehab an existing 50,000-square-foot building on the property in Phase 2. Sandhill Station will be completed in three or four phases in 2011.

In downtown Columbia, Charleston-based The Beach Company will introduce a new mixed-use development including commercial space and residences. CanalSide will be located at the intersection of Taylor and Williams St., and the project will feature 35,000 square feet of retail. Phase 1 of CanalSide will include 305,140 square feet of residential and 12,791 square feet of complementary commercial space. The project is expected to complete in December 2008.

Big box-anchored shadow centers sprouted up across the cityscape, including four Wal-Mart Supercenters located in northeast Columbia, northwest Columbia and two in Lexington County. Lexington Pavilion, a Target-anchored center, opened on Highway 378. Walgreens will open a location on Hopes Ferry Road and Interstate 78 in March, with more stores planned for the Columbia area, and Delhaize Group opened a new Food Lion. On the horizon, Costco and Trader Joe’s are reportedly investigating the local retail market.

Restaurant driven retail also made a big impact on Columbia’s retail market, “The small strip development has been very popular in the Midlands for several years,” Pollard says, “It follows a trend that more retailers want to be out on the road versus an inline grocery anchored center.” Restaurants that have headlined smaller centers include Salsarita’s, Shane’s Rib Shack, Moe’s and Five Guys Famous Burger and Fries.

Columbia’s retail market has maintained a positive status that’s expected to continue into 2008. Though retail is tapering off from the extensive development of yesteryear, the capital city is expected to weather the change well. “Our area will be fairly steady,” Kahn says. “…a steady increase, just not extraordinary.”

— Jia Gayles



I wanted to point out that the Village at Sandhill was one of only four centers in the United States nominated for the 2007 International Design and Development Awards. Congratulations to Kahn Development!

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Charleston Retail Market Overview

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Charleston’s active port has laid a strong foundation for the city’s future economic growth. “Charleston is becoming one of the premier ports on the Eastern Seaboard,” says Mark Taylor, director of commercial real estate for Charleston-based The Beach Company. “In the next few years, port activity is expected to more than double.” Charleston’s port is known for its geology, which allows for larger ships to dock than many other well-known eastern ports, such as Jacksonville. The Goose Creek area, in particular, has benefited from the busy port with increased job growth, which impacts residential needs and inevitably the retail that follows. Colliers Keenan reported at mid-quarter approximately 500,000 square feet of retail space was proposed for Goose Creek and job growth was on track to make its highest gain in 7 years.

Several retailers have taken advantage of Goose Creek’s burgeoning popularity. Lowe’s opened a store on St. James Avenue during the first quarter of last year, and the approximately 400,000-square-foot Red Bank Shopping Center opened on Red Bank Rd. in the fourth quarter. Near downtown Goose Creek, the Carnes Crossroads master-planned community by The Daniel Island Company is proposing more than 300 acres of dedicated commercial and office space. “There is a lot of activity within the commercial brokerage marketplace,” says Brian Aiken, a principal of Coldwell Banker Commercial in Charleston. “Most people have clients who are interested in the area.”

As mentioned last year, Avtex’s The Market at Oakland continues to make a big impact on the greater Charleston area. The property features 415,000 square feet of retail space, anchored by an 89,111-square-foot Kohl’s and an 184,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter. Developers are flocking to the burgeoning corridor. “Within a 3 or 4 mile radius, the Mount Pleasant, Highway 17 corridor is the most active region,” Taylor says. A new Mercedes-Benz dealership and a shopping center featuring Dick’s Sporting Goods, Staples and Harris Teeter are planned for the area. Also in Mount Pleasant, Watermark, a mixed-use development by The Beach Company will feature 8,000 square feet of first floor retail and 10 acres of land on which the Mediterranean Shipping Company will build its headquarters. The project is located in the Bowman, Rifle Range corridor at the intersection of Watermark Boulevard and Appling Drive.

Fairfax, Va.-based Republic Land is planning Carolina Park, an ambitious master-planned mixed-use community located in the busy Mount Pleasant corridor. The development is situated on 1,708 acres, adjacent to the East Cooper Airport, and will feature 1.35 million square feet of regional and service-oriented retail surrounded by natural greenways and screened parking. The development will also include a new hospital set to break ground in July, a 3.4 million-square-foot business park and 977 acres of residential land. Negotiations are underway for a department store, home improvement store and pharmacy. The project is valued at $1 billion and scheduled for completion in 2025.

Near the Charleston historic district, Daniel Island has been under development for the past 10 years. Hill Partners is planning The Town Center at Daniel Island, a $200 million mixed-use, open-air lifestyle center geared toward the growing Charleston population and its multi-billion dollar tourism industry. Town Center will feature 420,000 square feet of destination, specialty and lifestyle retail, restaurants and cafes in a pedestrian-friendly setting. There will also be a 480-unit residential component and mid-level hotel. Currently in the predevelopment and leasing phase, the project is proposed for a spring 2010 open.

Centre Pointe Developers are building The Shoppes at Centre Pointe, which will be adjacent to their Tanger Factory Outlet in the mega-successful Centre Pointe development at the intersection of International Dr. and Tanger Outlet Blvd. Phase 1 includes 139,300 square feet of retail and restaurants, with Ashley Furniture and Staples as anchors. Chick-fil-A and IHOP are on freestanding parcels. Phase 2 is projected to have 160,000 square feet of retail with a 10,000-square-foot outparcel building under construction. Hardee’s, First Federal Bank and Jim N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q will be outparcel users. Currently, phase 2 is preleasing.

According to Mark Taylor, the future of Charleston retail will be greatly impacted by the looming subprime mortgage crisis, “I think [development] is going to slow down,” he says, “and the primary reason is because the debt capital that is available for development is going to slow down.” Charleston previously experienced an explosive amount of growth, and Taylor forecasts that economic growth will slow as real estate liquidity continues to tighten. Conversely, Aiken concedes that Charleston has been on an aggressive pace, but says, “Trends are fairly steady, but I do see developers trying to find a balance between the cost of land, the cost to construct and the rental rates that retailers are trying to absorb in the market. I think land costs will loosen up, which will be a welcome change.”

Like its Carolina neighbors, Charleston has enjoyed unbridled economic growth as people are drawn to the temperate climate of the Carolinas, the quality of life and job availability. At present, most new developments are moving forward and the port continues to keep a steady flow of new business streaming into the city.

— Jia Gayles

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N.Y. Lawsuit Could Lead to Appraisal Reform

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N.Y. lawsuit deal could lead to appraisal reform

March 15, 2008

By Kenneth Harney
Washington Post Writers Group

Property appraisers have been warning about it for a decade, and the real estate market is reaping the whirlwind.

The price declines under way around the country are partly the result of systemic, intentional over valuations on home appraisals, much at the behest of loan officers illegally influencing or threatening appraisers to “hit the number” needed to close the deal.

But if an extraordinary new legal settlement has its intended effect, that system will be changed radically in the coming months.

For instance:

— Most lenders won’t be able to fund new mortgages without guaranteeing that the underlying property valuations are free of influence or pressure, and fully conform to a new national quality code for appraisals.

— Appraisers and consumers will have new complaint hotlines to report any of a long list of prohibited forms of appraisal interference by loan officers, realty agents and others.

— Lenders who have in-house appraisal staffs or who have financial interests in appraisal management companies won’t be allowed to use valuations generated by those services if they want to sell loans into the secondary mortgage market.

— Mortgage brokers, who originate anywhere from an estimated 50 percent to 60 percent of all home loans, will be cut out of the appraiser selection process altogether.

— National oversight of home real estate appraisals will be turned over to a new Independent Valuation Protection Institute that will monitor the accuracy of home appraisals and automated valuations, receive and mediate complaints, or forward them to federal and state regulators.

These and other sweeping changes are contained in a settlement among the two congressionally chartered mortgage investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the attorney general of New York and the federal agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie.

The settlement terms are still open to comment from the mortgage industry and general public, but the core quality standards for appraisals already are in effect for loans delivered to Fannie or Freddie. Next Jan. 1, the entire agreement is scheduled to take full effect.

Using a 1921 securities fraud law that is unique to his state, New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo brokered an agreement that transcends the normal reach of state governments, one that could eventually touch almost every home mortgage transaction nationwide.

Late last year, Cuomo began an investigation of potential appraisal fraud in the portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. With what he considered evidence of appraisal problems generated by a separate suit involving a major seller of loans to Fannie and Freddie, Washington Mutual Inc., Cuomo began negotiations with the two companies and their federal regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Cuomo never announced what, if anything, he found amiss inside Fannie and Freddie. In the settlement agreement, both companies denied any wrongdoing. First American Corp.’s eAppraiseIT subsidiary, accused by Cuomo of inflating appraisals under pressure from Washington Mutual, also denied wrongdoing, as has Washington Mutual.

Whatever the causes, Fannie and Freddie agreed to overhaul their appraisal standards and practices, signed on to a detailed home valuation code of conduct covering all their mortgage activities, and committed to pay $24 million over the next five years to create and staff the independent institute that will oversee appraisals nationwide.

Federal banking regulators are expected to adopt parallel reforms, effectively extending the agreement’s reach far beyond Fannie and Freddie to banks, thrift institutions and credit unions.

Mortgage brokers are incensed at what they consider their unfair treatment in the settlement. Roy DeLoach, executive vice president of the 25,000-member National Association of Mortgage Brokers, said the group is exploring legal action because of the settlement.

In the meantime, a new era of independent, better appraisals just might be on the horizon.


While this post really isn’t about South Carolina real estate in particular, it is about a topic that could affect real estate transactions nationally. It is also major news for my chosen profession – real estate valuation and consultation. I believe that all real estate professionals and lenders should be aware of this legal settlement.


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New Town on East Edisto Tract?

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Massive East Edisto tract could one day be new town

March 26, 2008

By Katy Stech
The Post and Courier

MeadWestvaco Corp. unveiled a draft master plan Tuesday for its East Edisto property that calls for developing about one-quarter of the site, or 18,000 acres, including what eventually could be a new town.

The paper company said about 75 percent of the 72,000-acre tract along the Edisto River west of Charleston would remain as open space through a combination of conserved lands, parks, lakes and rural areas.

The initial construction phase, which could take two decades or longer to complete, is concentrated on the north end of the property, in Dorchester County. It would include a business park to provide area residents with jobs, possibly from an unidentified biotechnology firm. It also would have three residential and commercial “villages” that would be smaller than or similar in size to The Ponds, a 2,000-acre nearby development.

“This is very much a natural path of growth for the region,” said John A. Luke Jr., MeadWestvaco’s chairman and chief executive officer.

The company said the three proposed villages will be “more than places to live.”

“The intention is for them to be places to work, play, worship and learn,” MeadWestvaco said in a statement. “It calls for quality schools at all levels — elementary through high school, as well as adult education opportunities and institutions of higher learning.”

Two to three decades from now, MeadWestvaco said, work could begin on what would essentially serve as a new town slightly larger than the nearby villages. The location would be closer to the center of the East Edisto tract and include more civic functions, such as an unidentified community college that has expressed interest in obtaining land for a campus.

A similar town center also was shown for the south end of the property, along Savannah Highway and west of Ravenel, but that could be 20 to 30 years away.

The huge expanse of land between the two proposed town sites would feature a network of roads and recreational trails for horses, hikers and bikers. An undisclosed number of homes would be allowed on property beyond the three villages, though they would have various restrictions, such as minimum lot sizes.

Ken Seeger, president of MeadWestvaco’s community development and land-management group, said the company will not build homes or businesses directly along the Edisto River, largely at the request of residents.

MeadWestvaco did not release projections at Tuesday’s public meeting on how many people could one day live in the East Edisto development. Seeger said construction will be based on regional growth patterns, not speculation.

“East Edisto will only grow in response to market demands,” he said.

MeadWestvaco has organized a series of community meetings in April to gather more feedback about East Edisto. It hopes to finalize the master plan by this summer. The company thinks what it presented is “close” to what the finished product will look like, Seeger said.

By early next year, MeadWestvaco hopes to submit development plans to Dorchester County and Charleston County governments. It likely won’t break ground for another three to five years, but Luke said the company will “lock down” specifically how the land can be developed before then.

He also said the various restrictions, such as the number of homes allowed per acre, will be difficult to reverse after the development deals are signed.

The magnitude of the East Edisto project has caused a sense of unease among some people who live near the rural timber tract. While most residents understand that MeadWestvaco has the right to develop its land, many said they are disappointed that their quality of life might change.

But the reception at the meeting was for the most part warm.

Wilbur Jones, who owns family land near the Edisto River north of Savannah Highway, said he was initially cautious of MeadWestvaco’s announcement a year ago but said that what officials presented was reasonable.

“I try to live in a real world, and, at this point, I’m coming away with good feelings,” he said.

Bob and Linda Baker live on 41 acres of forestland near Summerville that is entirely surrounded by MeadWestvaco acreage. Two years ago, they moved from one of Summerville’s largest subdivisions to the rural area for a change of pace and the opportunity to build a modest farm.

But Bob Baker said the two own “enough land to disappear in,” and that the proposed development would improve their property values and make their commute to shopping areas shorter. He also said he understands that the region needs to grow.

“If you don’t grow, you die,” he said.

MeadWestvaco said it will serve as the main developer for East Edisto, meaning it would install the roads and other infrastructure and oversee how the various phases are built out by other companies.

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