Archive for August, 2008

Aug
27

Greenville and Columbia Lodging Statistics Released

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Lodging statistics for Columbia and Greenville have been analyzed by Integra Realty Resources – SC. The data, provided by Smith Travel Research, shows increases in average daily rate for both markets on a year-to-date basis. Year-to-date occupancy levels increased in Columbia and declined almost one basis point in Greenville.

For the month of July, Columbia experienced a significant increase in occupancy from 63.8% in 2007 to 69% in 2008. Average daily rates increased in both markets for July, with Columbia seeing a 4.4% increased compared to 2.3% for Greenville.

The chart below summarizes the findings.

Categories : Columbia, Greenville
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Aug
27

Military Contracts Drive Charleston Industrial Market

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August 26, 2008

By Daily Journal Staff

Most industrial land with proximity to the Port of Charleston has been absorbed, and defense contracts are continuing to drive the industrial market, according to Colliers Keenan’s midyear report.

Still, occupancy rates of industrial buildings were down, rental rates were up and land prices relatively flat, the commercial real estate company reported.

At the end of June, the market had 25.67 million square feet of industrial space, of which 1.89 million square feet was unoccupied, leaving a vacancy rate of 9.17%. The lease rate was $4.33 per square foot.

Industry consolidations, a byproduct of the weak economy, are dragging down the port’s container traffic volume. Even with the 2% projected uptick in port traffic for 2009, net volume will remain well below 2007 numbers, the report says.

The outlook is still positive, Colliers Keenan said, noting that Southeastern ports expect to increase container throughput by 4% yearly for the next two decades — perhaps by more as fuel and trucking costs push more vessel traffic through East Coast water routes.

Among the highlights of the report:

· Military contract growth boosted industrial warehouse occupancy throughout the Charleston market during the first half of the year.

· Force Protection continues to compete successfully for armored vehicle contracts for U.S. and foreign militaries, and the company’s Cheetah series is positioned to be an interim replacement for the Humvee.

· A slew of local SPAWAR contracts for installation of electronics and weapons components were awarded, further driving growth in the military segment.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.charlestonbusiness.com/dailyjournal/3_218/full-issue.html#12662

Categories : Charleston
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Aug
27

Grand Strand Housing Inquiries Up As Prices Slip Down

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August 27, 2008

By Jessica Foster – The Sun News

People aren’t buying Myrtle Beach real estate at the rate they once did, but they are looking.

Myrtle Beach recently made Realtor.com’s list of markets across the nation with the fastest-growing search activity, likely because people are readying to snag a deal when the market bottoms, and they’re looking in areas with the steepest price declines, experts said.

Of the 135 markets with the biggest uptick in Web traffic, Myrtle Beach was 42nd, with a 24.6 percent increase in search activity on the home selling site for the National Association of Realtors. The survey compared search activity in July to July 2007.

Topping the list was Stockton-Lodi, Calif., with a 140.9 percent increase, and at the bottom was Roanoke, Va., with a 1 percent increase.

Other markets in the Carolinas that made the cut include the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson area (up 12.2 percent), Columbia (up 2.2 percent) and Wilmington, N.C. (up 1.1 percent).

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/business/story/570782.html

Categories : Myrtle Beach
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Aug
27

Americans’ Confidence in Economy on Rise

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August 27, 2008

By Anne D’Innocenzio – Associated Press

Americans felt better about the economy in August as a barometer of sentiment posted the biggest rise in two years amid falling gas prices.

Two reports suggested a bottom could be nearing for the housing market, but economists caution that it’s too early to proclaim that the worst is over.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 56.9 from a revised 51.9 in July. That’s the largest gain since August 2006 and was above the 53 expected by economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

It’s also the second month in a row that sentiment improved, after a six-month slide since January, but it remains about half what it was a year ago, and worries about the job market persisted.

“It’s still too early to call a bottom” on confidence and housing, said Gary Thayer, senior economist at Wachovia Securities.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index released Tuesday showed home prices dropped a record 15.4 percent during the second quarter. But the rate of single-family home price declines slowed from May to June, a possible silver lining.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/27/americans_confidence_economy_on_rise52078/

Categories : National News
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Aug
27

Tailgating “Cockominiums” Being Sold With Buy-Back Promise

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Down-market sales technique could reel in reluctant buyers

By Kristy Eppley Rupon – The State

If you’re thinking of betting on a cockominium, Robert Lewis just lowered the stakes.

Lewis, a Columbia attorney and developer, traded a spec house at Murrells Inlet last year for three condominiums in Carolina Walk, across the street from Williams-Brice Stadium.

Now, he’s putting them on the market — with a buy-back guarantee that’s good for four years.

Lewis said his thinking was: “In this type of market, what is going to entice somebody to buy this type of product and put their mind at ease?”

The answer was a contract guarantee that he will buy back the condominiums within 24 to 48 months after the purchase at 80 percent of market value or their purchase price plus 10 percent — if the buyer chooses to sell it back to him.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.thestate.com/business/story/503426.html

Categories : Columbia
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Aug
27

Beach Co. To Own Entire 40-Acre Redevelopment Tract

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August 27, 2008

By David Slade – The Post and Courier

The Charleston Water System has agreed to sell a small property in North Charleston to The Beach Company, which would give the company control of the only parcel it did not already own within the 40-acre redevelopment site known as Garco Park.

The gravel lot at Virginia Avenue and Empire Street, covering just under a quarter-acre, was the site of a water tower that was taken down about 20 years ago.

“It’s 100 feet by 100 feet, but it sits at a very important corner,” said Kent Johnson, vice president of The Beach Company. “It’s kind of like a missing tooth.”

The parcel sits adjacent to industrial land that was home to asbestos and rubber manufacturing, where The Beach Company plans to conduct an environmental cleanup and then build a mixed-use development of offices, retail, condominiums and a large grocery store.

Johnson said there is no specific plans for the small parcel Charleston Water System is selling.

“We want to be able to landscape it and incorporate it into the adjacent parcel, which is the loft-condominium parcel,” he said.

The commissioners of Charleston Water System had the property appraised, concluded that it was worth $80,000 and agreed to sell it to The Beach Company for that price plus sale-related expenses, without seeking bids.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/27/beach_co_buy_small_land_parcel52089/

Categories : Charleston
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Aug
25

S.C., Columbia Home Sales Slide in July

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August 25, 2008
By Kristy Eppley Rupon – The State

Home sales dipped in Columbia and throughout South Carolina in July as the traditional home-selling season ended.

The 927 homes and condos sold in the Columbia-area last month were 11.7 percent lower from a year earlier, according to information released today by the S.C. Realtors trade group.

But the area’s median price remained flat at $150,000.

Statewide, 4,582 homes and condos were sold in July, a 20 percent decline from last year.

Hilton Head was the only bright spot for South Carolina last month, with a 17 percent increase in sales.

The state saw a 7.5 percent slide in median home price to $155,200 in July.

Homes stayed on the market nearly two weeks longer than July last year, averaging 91 days last month.

And Realtors’ confidence is not getting stronger. Those polled by S.C. Realtors see the current market as fairly week and they think it will remain that way for the next six months.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.thestate.com/breakingbiz/story/501463.html
Categories : Columbia
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Aug
25

New Construction Projects Popping Up Throughout Pee Dee

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August 23, 2008

By Candace Jarrett – Morning News Reporter

New businesses are popping up throughout the Pee Dee every day, it seems.

The arrivals of Heinz, Monster and a new Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Florence have all been announced, but here are some things that haven’t.

Driving down Hoffmeyer Road, you’ll not only see the signs for the new supercenter, but also a new retail center right next door to West Florence High School called the Village At Windsor.

Todd Walker — president of Walker Industry, the construction company on the project — also is the owner of the retail space.

“It’s a retail shopping center,” he said. “There are seven stores total, including Bravo Event Solutions and Firehouse Subs.”

Walker said the construction slowdown across the nation hasn’t hit Florence, and he said this project should be complete in six weeks.

“The economic hardships had scared some people away, but for the most part, people are continuing on,” he said. “Some other projects we are working on include adding onto the Greek Orthodox church along with CHOiCES Charter School and the (Florence) Boys & Girls Club.”

Radio Drive near Florence Civic Center has changed dramatically during the past few years as many hotels, restaurants and department stores popped up on the scene and the growths seems to continue.

A new AT&T store next door to Chili’s soon will be opening with additional space for another retail area.

There’s also construction going on at the site of another Marriott hotel — Residence Inn — that will be beside Springhill Suites by Marriott.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.scnow.com/scp/news/local/pee_dee/article/construction_slow_down_hasnt_hit_florence/13228/

Categories : Florence
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Aug
25

Grand Strand Retail Sales Down

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August 24, 2008

Retail sales on the Grand Strand fell in May according to data recently released by the S.C. Department of Revenue and Taxation.

Gross sales fell from about $888.1 million in April to about $860.3 million in May, mirroring the statewide drop from $13.1 billion to $12.3 billion.

“We think it’s the high gasoline prices taking income away from people,” said Bill Gillespie, chief economist with the state’s Board of Economic Advisors.

That brings Grand Strand retail sales to about $4.6 billion for the period December through May, down from $4.9 billion during the same period last year.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://thesunnews.typepad.com/shoptalk/2008/08/retail-sales-do.html
Categories : Myrtle Beach
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Aug
25

Appraisers Still Pressured To Fudge Numbers

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August 23, 2008

By Kenneth Harney

Have the real estate valuation shenanigans and inflated home appraisals that characterized the boom years disappeared from the marketplace?

Ask appraisers and many will tell you: It’s still business as usual. Attempts at encouraging inflated appraisals continue to be commonplace, though in some cases the techniques have become subtler.

“Absolutely appraisers continue to get pressured” to hit the numbers needed to push transactions to closing, said Bill Garber, government affairs director for the Appraisal Institute, the country’s largest professional organization representing appraisers.

“That has not changed yet,” added Garber, even though recently signed federal housing legislation toughened appraisal standards and the Federal Reserve’s new truth-in-lending rules ban interference, bribes or intimidation designed to influence appraisers’ valuations.

Gary Crabtree, principal of Affiliated Appraisers in Bakersfield, Calif., says “it hasn’t gone away,” and there are even some developments on the horizon that could make things worse. Starting Oct. 1, a new federal foreclosure-relief refinancing program gets under way that will require lenders to write down the value of distressed houses to 90 percent of current market value to enable borrowers to be refinanced.

Some appraisers “could find themselves under pressure to inflate values” on those properties to cut lenders’ losses, says Crabtree, even though the federal legislation authorizing the refinancing program specifically prohibits interference.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/23/appraisers_still_pressured_fudge_numbers51614/
Categories : National News
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Aug
25

Bridges and Holland Roads Property Rezone Headed To Planning Commission

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August 24, 2008

By Kelly VanLeeuwen – Greenville News

A rezoning request to develop the unincorporated lot at Bridges and Holland roads will head to County Council soon.

Owners hope to rezone the three-acre property from single family-residential to neighborhood commercial and build a drugstore and retail office, according to plans.

A county public hearing on the request was held last week, with no recommendation given. County Council has held a first reading, and the Planning Commission will take up the request Wednesday.

The planning staff will give its recommendation to the commission at that meeting, which starts at 4:30 p.m. in Conference Room D at County Square, according to Skip Limbaker, a principal planner with the department.

Should the request move through the process without delay, it would go to the county Public Works, Planning and Development Committee at 5 p.m., Sept. 15, and then to County Council for second reading Oct. 7 and third reading Oct. 21, Limbaker said.

The lot, comprising three properties, is owned by longtime Mauldin developer Dewayne Rice, Phillip Wilson and Trans-Equipment Services Inc., which is a division of The Spinx Company Inc., which owns multiple gas stations in the Carolinas.

Plans call for two buildings on the site – a 14,750-square-foot drugstore and a 9,750-square-foot retail or office building, with 114 parking spaces, according to the county planning department.

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080824/NEWS01/808240355/1004/NEWS01
Categories : Greenville
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Aug
25

Condo Development Might Be Ready In March

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August 25, 2008

By David Slade – The Post and Courier

A long-delayed city development of 42 condominiums for first-time home buyers is well under way near Wagener Terrace, a neighborhood where pricey single-family homes have replaced a low-income apartment complex.

The condos are part of a deal the city struck after The Beach Co. decided to demolish Shoreview, a privately-owned low-income apartment complex, and build a new community called Longborough.

Amid public concern about the loss of affordable housing in the community, The Beach Co. in 2001 agreed to sell to the city up to 50,000 square feet of new housing for $125 per square foot, on a site adjacent to the Longborough development.

The agreement said permits for construction would be issued by the end of 2004. In 2005, city officials said the homes likely would be completed in 2006. In 2006, they said 2007. In 2007, they said 2008.

Now, the city expects The Cottages at Longborough to receive occupancy certificates in March 2009.

Prices for the condos will range from $112,500 to $150,000, which is far below market rates on the peninsula. There has been a waiting list for years to get one of the condos.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/25/condo_development_might_be_ready_march51911/

Categories : Charleston
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Aug
22

Amenities Out Of Myrtle Beach Plans after Builder’s Bankruptcy Filing

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August 22, 2008

By Jessica Foster – The Sun News

Crews have resumed construction on some of the houses at Seasons at Prince Creek West, a Murrells Inlet retirement community that was left partially built and uncertain of its future when developer Levitt and Sons filed for bankruptcy last year.

Now, because of a deal that the troubled home builder struck with creditor Wachovia Bank, people who had put deposits down on homes there can finally see them finished. But there are no plans to build the amenities for the neighborhood, including a clubhouse.

“We were about five days from closing” when Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Levitt and Sons went bankrupt, said 67-year-old Jackie Kateridge. It’s been a long wait, but Kateridge and her husband finally got to move into their four-bedroom, $383,000 house last week, she said.

“I’m thrilled to death,” she said. “I think it’s a great community. The people are wonderful, and there’s always something going on here.”

Wachovia is financing the construction in the Murrells Inlet community and six others left in the lurch from Levitt’s Chapter 11 filing in November, said Soneet Kapila, the court-approved chief administrator for those developments.

Five homes have been finished in Seasons since the deal was struck, and six to eight more are on the roster, said Jeff Pritchard, project manager with Atlanta-based John Wieland Homes.

“We don’t have a number [of homes] fixed,” Kapila said. “It depends on how many people would like their homes built.”

Still, with only about 100 homes in the community and no amenities, some residents say it isn’t quite what they signed up for when they invested there. Initial plans called for 460 houses and a 27,000-square-foot clubhouse and sports complex equipped with a pool, tennis courts and arts and crafts center.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/business/story/564517.html
Categories : Myrtle Beach
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Aug
22

Economy Claims New Charleston Victims

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Dozens affected as developer Arnold Goodstein falters

August 22, 2008

By Katy Stech – The Post and Courier

In the stillness of a midsummer afternoon, Patty and William Pawlak heard a scream.

It came out of a half-built, abandoned house behind their secluded Legend Oaks neighborhood near Summerville. A young boy who lived nearby, and had claimed the house as his “fort,” accidentally cut his arm on shattered glass from broken windows. He desperately needed stitches.

To surrounding residents, the vacant home and the cleared field around it are a safety hazard and breeding ground for mischief. Neighbors hear gunshots late at night, and the area has become a dumping ground, littered with crushed beer cans and spent fireworks.

The site was left derelict by Summerville Homes, which once planned to build about 30 homes there. Now the company is scrambling to work out deals with its banks over what’s left of what once was one of the area’s largest local residential builders.

Dozens of lawsuits from lenders and subcontractors have been filed against the company, and a court-appointed receiver has taken over some of its assets.

Summerville Homes is led by lawyer and former state lawmaker Arnold Goodstein. He’s known in business circles as smart and aggressive, and real estate industry experts say his company, like others, got caught with more than it could handle as the real estate market slowed.

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/22/economy_claims_new_victims51669/

Categories : Charleston
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Aug
22

One Forest Acres Development on Hold, Others Build On

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August 22, 2008

By Kristy Eppley Rupon – The State

The housing downturn and struggling economy have stalled a high-profile Forest Acres neighborhood, leaving one empty house and several others in various stages of construction.

Developers had planned a gated community of 32 homes starting at $600,000 with the latest in fiber optic technology, adjacent to the Rockbridge Country Club off Trenholm Road.

“Some of the builders got caught in the economic slowdown,” said developer John Cooper, who has sold eight of 32 lots to builders.

Cooper, son of Forest Land Co. owner Edwin Cooper Jr., said the family, longtime local developers, will not dump the project. The Cooper family has been developing land in the Midlands for three generations and is responsible for the Spring Valley and Woodcreek Farms neighborhoods.

Cooper said he plans to ride out the current downturn and refocus the project on environmentally sensitive development.

“We’re in it for the long run,” he said. “It’s obviously tough right now for builders building spec houses. It’s tough for people getting financing and selling the house that they’re in. When things turn around, we’ll be having some lots for sale.”

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:

http://www.thestate.com/business/story/498236.html
Categories : Columbia
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