Port Expansion Spurs Development in Charleston


Port spurs warehouse projects
Planned expansion creates opportunity

April 17, 2008

By John P. McDermott – The Post and Courier

Terms of UseNorth Pointe Industrial Park The planned expansion of the Port of Charleston has helped land another sizable warehouse development that’s banking on future growth at the state’s docks.

Indiana-based Lauth Property Group said Wednesday that it plans to break ground in June on the first of two big commercial buildings at North Pointe Industrial Park, off North Rhett Avenue in Hanahan.

The first structure will measure nearly 391,000 square feet and is scheduled to be finished early next year, the company said. The second planned structure, totaling nearly 400,000 square feet, will be built based on market demand.

The developers are “very bullish on … the growth at Southeast ports, and their ability to capitalize on that growth,” said Hagood Morrison, a broker with Colliers Keenan, which is handling the leasing for the North Pointe project.

Lauth of Indianapolis joins a growing roster of real estate investors betting that a shipping terminal the State Ports Authority is proposing for the former Navy base will stoke demand for modern warehouse space.

In the Jedburg area, for instance, Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood group is getting set to start work on its Charleston Trade Center, a project that eventually could house more than 9 million square feet of industrial real estate.

Near Daniel Island, Childress Klein of Charlotte is adding warehouse space at Charleston Regional Business Center. Farther away, two groups have proposed massive port-driven industrial parks near Orangeburg, where Interstates 26 and 95 intersect.

Most of the projects are speculative, meaning developers are starting work without any tenants.

For 31-year-old Lauth, the Hanahan project is its first venture in the Lowcountry. “The Charleston market as a whole is a place we want to be and do business,” said Houston Roberts, a vice president in the firm’s Charlotte office.

“It’s something we’ve had our eye on for a long time, and we were just looking for the right deal.”

The local warehouse construction boom is partly a response to projections that Asian exporters will shift some of their containerized shipments from the West Coast to less-congested East Coast ports, including Charleston’s. “That’s a big reason why we’re down there,” Roberts said.

Lauth said its Hanahan site will likely appeal to tenants that want to be near the proposed and existing North Charleston port terminals and the region’s two interstate highways. “We consider it an in-town location,” Roberts said.

While the sea trade is fueling much of the building activity, he noted that Charleston also has a growing base of government contractors and manufacturers that also require warehouse space. “It’s pretty diverse,” Roberts said. “It’s not just one thing driving the industrial market.”

Lauth’s project will be vying for tenants with two recently vacated 300,000-square-foot warehouses in North Pointe Industrial Park. Those buildings went dark earlier this year when clothing importer McNaughton Apparel shut down its local distribution center.

“Hopefully, they’ll be leased by the time our first building is delivered,” Roberts said.


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