Archive for May, 2008

May
31

126 Acre Island for $3 million?

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Ginn Co. sells island to City of Charleston

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Morris Island is officially in the care of public hands.

The Ginn Co., a Florida-based real estate development company, sold the historic and environmentally sensitive island to the City of Charleston for $3 million on Friday.

The company originally bought the 126-acre site for $6.5 million with the goal of preserving it.
A deed restriction on the property prohibits development.

“We have saved and forever protected a treasure,” Mayor Joe Riley said Friday at an event that celebrated the sale.

The ceremony acknowledged a handful of other groups that played a role in the preservation efforts, including the Trust for Public Land, the South Carolina Conservation Bank, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and the South Carolina State Ports Authority.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/may/31/ginn_co_sells_island_city_charleston/

Categories : Charleston
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May
30

Magnolia Project Back on Track for Charleston’s Neck

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By Molly Parker , Staff Writer

Sporting a new title, Charleston developer Robert Clement is once again in charge of the Magnolia residential and commercial project slated for Charleston’s Neck area overlooking the Ashley River.

In early May, Clement was named CEO of Magnolia Development LLC on the heels of a terse City Council directive to the company to either fix communication problems with area neighborhood leaders or jeopardize the project’s progress.

Clement replaced Dan Proffitt, a real estate veteran brought in from Atlanta by Cherokee Investment Partners, Magnolia’s main financial backers.

In a sign that tensions have eased, the City Council voted Tuesday to reverse an earlier moratorium on any aspect of the project that would need the city’s approval.

“I would think we will go vertical in the next 18 to 24 months. I think we’re off and running now,” Clement said. Of his new title, he added, “It was more important to other people than it was to me, to be honest.”

Magnolia’s blueprint calls for up to 4,400 residential units and 1.3 million square feet of commercial space on 150 acres of highland.

By the end of the summer, the area will look markedly different, Clement said. The communication towers and fences that now dot the property soon will come down. Magnolia is also working to strike deals with about a dozen remaining industrial tenants to relocate them to other areas of the city.

Within three months, construction is expected to begin on a 1,400-foot bridge across the marsh that will provide direct access to Interstate 26, as well as on road improvements to nearby Hariot, Petty and Mechanic streets.

“Over the next six months there will be a noticeable change on the property as the rest of the tenants move off and we tear down the existing fences,” Clement said. “And you might even be able to see the river.”

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.charlestonbusiness.com/dailyjournal/3_157/full-issue.html#12115
Categories : Charleston
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May
30

Who Rates the Ratings Agencies?

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Published: May 29 2008

It was a debacle. The large ratings agencies – Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s – completely misjudged the creditworthiness of subprime mortgages and bonds backed by them. But while there is an urgent need for change, intrusive regulation would utterly fail to prevent similar problems in future, while imposing considerable costs.

Some have gone as far as blaming the subprime mortgage crash on the ratings agencies because, in retrospect, their judgments were wrong. But a lot of other intelligent people were wrong as well. A separate issue is the report by the Financial Times last week that a computer bug resulted in Moody’s awarding incorrect triple A ratings to billions of dollars-worth of one type of complex debt product. That is something that Moody’s must resolve but it is not the primary basis for wider debate about credit ratings.

That debate must rest on what went wrong with the ratings on asset-backed bonds. First, there was fraud in the underlying mortgage applications, so ratings were based on false data. Second, subprime mortgages are a recent innovation, so there were few data on how they perform in a downturn. Third, mortgagors seem to have become more willing to walk away from their homes as prices fall, and ratings agencies did not spot the change.

A fundamental, though intractable, question is whether the inadequacy of the ratings was linked to the conflict of interest faced by all of the ratings agencies. Credit ratings are used by investors but paid for by the issuers of bonds, so the agencies have a financial incentive to keep issuers happy. This conflict could be solved – by, for example, creating an independent body to commission credit ratings using issuers’ money – but that would require the will to push through a fundamental industry upheaval.

Some have proposed straightforward regulation as an alternative – but it would not work. Confronted with byzantine new forms of structured finance and little time to assess them, regulators would either be captured by the agencies, or block all innovation. It would be far better to open up the methodology behind ratings to wider scrutiny, debate and understanding.

That is a change the credit raters must make themselves and it is not the only one. Credit ratings were not just wrong, they were misunderstood, and the agencies’ use of the familiar triple A nomenclature contributed to that. Structured bonds are different to normal corporate bonds both in legal structure and in how they behave. The ratings agencies should adopt new labels to describe them forthwith.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/972d5cca-2dad-11dd-b92a-000077b07658.html

Categories : Appraisal News
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May
30

Regulator Criticizes Appraisal Agreement

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May 28, 2008

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The regulator who oversees national banks is protesting an agreement by the mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stop buying loans involving lenders’ in-house appraisers, a deal intended to protect buyers from fraudulently inflated home prices.

The comptroller of the currency, John C. Dugan, is asking for withdrawal of the agreement that the two mortgage finance companies negotiated with the New York attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, and their federal regulator, on grounds that it violates federal law and could have an unintended negative impact on the mortgage industry.

Mr. Dugan on Tuesday joined another federal regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and mortgage industry interests who previously criticized the agreement that is scheduled to take effect next year, which would ban lenders from using in-house appraisers and block mortgage brokers from ordering appraisals.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. Cuomo and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, or Ofheo, reached the accord in early March, ending an investigation by Mr. Cuomo into billions of dollars of loans Fannie and Freddie had bought from lenders. The two government-sponsored companies agreed to buy only mortgages for which appraisals were made by companies independent from lenders.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/business/28lend.html?ex=1212724800&en=2514ba1742913131&ei=5070&emc=eta1

Categories : Appraisal News
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May
30

Anderson’s Pruitt Shopping Center to be Renovated

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Pruitt Shopping Center slated for renovation

May 29, 2008

By Heidi Cenac – Anderson Independent-Mail

Food Lion’s discussions with Pruitt Shopping Center are on hold, but the owner of the center says he is moving ahead with renovation plans.

Bill Martin said he had been talking to Food Lion about opening a grocery in the shopping center, which sits at North Main Street and Whitehall Road in Anderson. The supermarket has since placed pursuit of that location and a handful of others on hold, Martin said.

He expects a final decision about Food Lion’s plans in mid-June, he said, but he’s not waiting on that development to start working on a renovation of the entire center, which was built more than 30 years ago.

Martin said he is meeting with architects in Greenville about design ideas and cost estimates. The planning process is expected to take two to three months. His goal is to take Pruitt Shopping Center back to its prime while still offering affordable retail space, but residents should look for the renovations to include more than a façade change.

“It’ll be a major transformation when I do it,” Martin said.

Pruitt should start leasing again soon — negotiations were temporarily halted while Martin made plans for its future — and in the meantime, its retailers are open for business with no plans to move.

The owners of Model Barber Shop, KidStuff Boutique, Real Deals Home Décor, and Greeting Cards and Jewelry said customers keep asking if they are leaving, but they are there for the long haul.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.independentmail.com/news/2008/may/29/pruitt-shopping-center-slated-renovation/

Categories : Anderson
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May
30

Okatie Development Plans Sent Back to Planning Commission

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May 30, 2008

By Michael Welles Shapiro – Island Packet

Three Okatie projects that will include both residential and retail space will face several more hurdles before receiving a definitive vote from the full Beaufort County Council.

Presented with a new set of studies on the impact of the 1,252-home Okatie Village project, the council’s land management committee voted unanimously Thursday to send the plans back to the county planning commission for a second look.

That commission recommended in March that council reject the project based on county studies. Finance director Tom Henrikson said then the developments would cost the county $15.5 million, despite the new tax revenues they would create.

Traffic engineer Colin Kinton said new drivers from the project would trigger a $19-million widening project on S.C. 170, the site of the proposed developments.

New developer-commissioned studies, which paint a rosier picture, were unveiled this week.

A study performed by Clemson’s Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs shows their project will have a positive impact on county revenues. Developers say their study, presented Thursday, is more thorough and accurate than the county’s.

Hilton Head Island’s Jim Robinson and Winston-Salem-based LaCasa Real Estate Development, the developers involved in Okatie Village, need council approval to move forward. Their plans call for residential and retail space, interconnecting roads and pathways, and 15 percent of all homes set aside as middle-income housing.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/story/511399.html
Categories : Bluffton
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May
30

Golf Courses Being Purchased by Members to Avoid Redevelopment

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Members make offer on Richland golf courses
Residents of Northeast neighborhoods want to prevent redevelopment

May 30, 2008

By Dawn Hinshaw – The State

Members of two golf clubs, wanting to ensure that hundreds of acres of prime real estate in Richland Northeast aren’t redeveloped, have offered to buy the WildeWood and Woodcreek country clubs.

Members were notified by letter last week that a steering committee had extended a preliminary offer to owner Golf Trust of America, in Charleston.

Resident Bill McDougall, who is heading the effort, would not disclose the amount of the offer.

“The immediate goal is to correct the downward slide the clubs have experienced,” McDougall’s May 22 letter to 950 members of the two clubs said.

Mike Pearce, the new president of Golf Trust of America, said Thursday, “We’re in dialogue with the members group, but we are not currently acting on any offer” from them.

Pearce said the two properties were appraised at $5.4 million in January, though they are not being marketed for sale.

As golf courses around the country age, a tension is developing between club owners interested in profiting from the land and residents who paid a premium for homes along the fairways.

Earlier this month, in neighboring Lexington County, some 300 members of Timberlake beat developers to the purchase of that 20-year-old club. Residents said the $3 million deal would ensure the golf course remains a centerpiece of their Lake Murray community.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.thestate.com/local/story/419506.html
Categories : Columbia
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May
29

Savannah Highway Retail Center Breaks Ground

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Savannah Highway retail center breaks ground

By Kathleen Dayton – Charleston Business Journal

A formal groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday for Savannah Square, a $1.6 million two-story, 9,000-square-foot retail and office complex to be located at the corner of Savannah Highway and Blitch Ridge Road.

Site work will begin next week, said owner Al Wilson, who also is owner of Loan Finders of South Carolina Inc., a mortgage broker and lender. Loan Finders will relocate to a new office in Savannah Square after its completion, Wilson said.

The new shopping center has been designed by LS3P architects with a retro mid-20th- century modern design.

“The people in the neighborhood are really excited about it,” Wilson said. “It will really change the face of the neighborhood.”

Retail and office space in the complex will be available for sale or for lease and range from 1,106 square feet to 2,100 square feet. Wilson said future tenants could include a coffee shop and bakery but leases have not been finalized.

Wilson has been planning the shopping center for about a year.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.charlestonbusiness.com/dailyjournal/3_156/full-issue.html#12107

Categories : Charleston
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May
29

Columbia Plans to Get Tough on Panhandling

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Beggars’ territory shrinks
City bans panhandling at night, at ATMs, at drive-throughs

May 29, 2008

By ADAM BEAM – The State

Columbia City Council, on the heels of a nationwide trend to restrict beggars in downtown shopping and dining districts, passed an aggressive-panhandling ordinance Wednesday that some say will be difficult to enforce.

“Aggressive begging” has been illegal in the city since 1991, but the vague ordinance hasn’t been enforced that often, city officials said.

The new ordinance, approved 5-0, with Mayor Bob Coble and Councilman Kirkman Finlay absent, restricts when and where a person can beg for money, including:

• At night

• At an ATM or bank

• At outdoor seating for a restaurant

• At a drive-through

But the city could run into problems enforcing the new ordinance.

Penalties range from a $500 fine to 30 days in jail. Beggars typically can’t pay the fine.

That leaves jail time. But starting in July, the city has to pay Richland County $25 per person per day for those it sends to the county jail. City Manager Charles Austin has said the city can’t afford that and has told police chief Tandy Carter to write more tickets and send fewer people to jail.

Because panhandling is a misdemeanor, police officers can make an arrest only if they see it happen or if a victim signs a warrant.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.thestate.com/local/story/418433.html
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BLOG NOTE:
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This article is posted because Columbia complains about not being able to attract retailers to Main Street. Is the homeless issue a factor? I say it is. Please give us your thoughts by clicking on “Comments” below.
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MBD

Categories : Columbia
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May
28

Columbia Real Estate Suit Goes on Despite National Settlement

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Columbia real estate suit goes on despite national settlement

May 28, 2008

By Kristy Eppley Rupon – The State

A settlement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Association of Realtors does not affect a lawsuit against the Columbia-area Consolidated Multiple Listing Service filed this month.

The national association has agreed to allow Internet-based residential real estate brokers access to home listings kept by affiliated listing services around the country, which could lower commission costs for home sellers.

The local listing service is one of just two in South Carolina that is not affiliated with the Realtors association. The other is in Hilton Head, which settled a lawsuit with the Justice Department earlier this year.

The lawsuit against the Columbia organization — which is run by brokers from the area’s dominant firms — accuses the group of restricting access to listings by low-cost and Internet-based brokers.

Nick Kremydas, chief executive of the S.C. Realtors trade group, said the settlement with the national organization could lead to a quicker resolution of the local suit.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.thestate.com/breakingbiz/story/417842.html

Categories : Columbia
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May
28

April Lodging Statistics in for Columbia and Greenville

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Integra Realty Resources – South Carolina has compiled the April 2008 lodging figures by Smith Travel Research have been compiled for Greenville and Columbia. Occupancy was up in April for both markets, as compared to April 2007. The average room rate was also up for both markets, with a considerable increase of 7.1% for Greenville.

Photobucket

Categories : Columbia, Greenville
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May
27

More on the Integra Altus Merger in the News

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Local Appraisal Firm Going International as Result of Merger

May 21, 2008

Integra Realty Resources, a nationwide real estate valuation firm with 800 employees in 55 offices across the United States and Mexico, announced plans to merge with Altus Group Income Fund of Toronto recently. Altus Group employs 1,100 in its 31 offices in Canada and Europe.

“This is an exciting opportunity, and we’re happy that we’ll be able to offer our clients additional services as one of the largest property valuation and counseling firms in the world,” said Michael B. Dodds, MAI, CCIM, MRICS, managing partner of Integra Realty Resources’ offices in Columbia and Greenville, and IRR-Residential Columbia, the residential real estate valuation division.

The mutually beneficial merger gives Altus a foray into the U.S. market, and likewise, Integra will have access to Canada and the European market. In addition, as brokerage house-affiliated valuation groups have recently been scrutinized regarding potential conflicts of interest, Integra and Altus have retained their status as independent appraisers.

“There’s an increasing preference to use firms like Altus and Integra where there is a commitment to quality uncompromised by a conflict of interest,” said Debora Hendrix, MAI, director of the Columbia office of Integra.

While the merger hasn’t been finalized, day-to-day operations in the Columbia and Greenville offices will not change and clients won’t experience any disruptions. “The merger will mean Integra will have access to even higher quality data and technology. I fully expect the merger to lead to a $1 billion company in the near future,” says Dodds.

Integra expects to add employees nationwide once the merger is complete. “The merger means that our loyal employees will have access to lucrative stock options and additional benefits, allowing us to retain and attract the best of the best analysts,” says Dodds.

Altus stock prices spiked nearly 9 percent to close at $18.25 per share by the end of the Toronto Stock Exchange trading day immediately following the announcement. The merger is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of this year, and at this time neither Integra nor Altus disclosed pricing for the acquisition.
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LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080521/YOURUPSTATE/805210391/1239/BUSINESS02

Categories : Columbia, Greenville
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May
27

Help Save a Beautiful School Building!

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I would like to ask for your help.

A beautiful school building may be demolished later this year – the same school where I attended kindergarten. In Winnsboro, SC, Mt. Zion Institute sits on a site whose use has been educational since 1777. The existing building, constructed in 1936, has stood closed and silent since 1991, waiting on a group to come to its rescue. Well, that group has been formed, and they are hoping to save and rehab the building. This will be a great project to follow, and I will be periodically posting updates.

Please visit the Friends of Mt. Zion Institute website to learn more….

http://www.mtzioninstitute.com/home
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MBD
Categories : Columbia, Winnsboro
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May
27

Equestrian Subdivisions Coming to the Upstate

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Anderson, Pickens take closer look at equestrian impact

May 27, 2008

Francis B. Allgood, Managing Editor

Available acreage, favorable weather conditions and low taxes are attracting horse enthusiasts to the Upstate, and officials in Anderson and Pickens counties are studying the economic impact.

In December, an out-of-state couple purchased a home on Belle Shoals Road in Pickens County and turned the 85-acre property into a training ground for dressage horses. They also built an indoor arena the size of a football field.

“These premier horse farms will attract others,” says Jim Capaldi. “I think that’s what is going to happen here.”

Capaldi recently opened Countryside Realty with a focus on farm homes and land transactions. From breeders to horse trainers to pleasure riders, he says Pickens County is gaining ground in the equestrian community.

According to Capaldi, an acre typically sells for $10,000 in Pickens County, whereas high-profile equestrian communities command $30,000-$35,000.

It’s hard to buy acreage in Hendersonville (N.C.),” he adds.

According to the 2004 census, there are 84,300 equine residing in South Carolina. Expenses related to the animals were $402 million, while $76 million was earned through activities such as riding lessons, horse sales and breeding.

Kristine Vernon says those figures are “grossly underestimated.”

“People were a little leery that they were going to be taxed,” says the Clemson University instructor in animal and veterinary science. “We believe it’s over 100,000 in the state, currently.”

According to Glenn Brill, executive director of the Anderson Convention and Visitors Bureau, a two-day horse show has an economic impact of $174,500. Anderson has the second largest equine inventory in the state at 6,000, behind Aiken’s 6,500.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.gsabusiness.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=47&Itemid=54
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BLOG NOTE:
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Our firm has appraised several equestrian subdivisions in the Aiken area. Those were primarily centered around Aiken’s rich polo history. When marketed aggressively, and developed with proper amenities, these subdivisions do very well. Based upon our research, those subdivisions with 2 to 4 acre lots have experienced the highest absorption.

MBD

Categories : Anderson, Clemson, Greenville
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May
27

Point of Sale Legislation Awaiting Consideration in Finance Committee

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Last week, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Property Taxation gave a favorable report to H.4942 (Cotty), legislation addressing point of sale assessment. H.4942 now awaits consideration by the full Finance Committee.

For those of you that are really bored, here is the link to the entire bill.

http://www.scstatehouse.net/sess117_2007-2008/bills/4942.htm
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