The Greater Charleston, South Carolina retail market grew by more than 4 million square feet during the course of 2003. Fueled by increased consumer confidence and population growth, most of the six primary sub-markets enjoyed the addition of new shopping centers anchored by grocery stores and national retail merchandisers. Additionally, several areas welcomed free-standing retailers such as Super Wal-mart stores. As indicators of the overall retail market, anchored shopping centers, free-standing anchor tenants and malls are the subjects of this survey. At year-end 2003, the Greater Charleston retail market contained 14,664,355 square feet, a 38% increase over 2002. With 13,476,610 square feet leased, only 1,070,945 square feet or 7.30% remains vacant. Much of the vacancy exists in 1,200 to 5,000 square foot spaces. New construction and renegotiated leases caused rental rates to increase on average $.41 per square foot per year. At the same time, costs of common area maintenance, taxes and insurance grew by $.90 per square foot annually. Though the entire market experienced growth in 2003, the greatest amount of growth occurred in the Summerville and Berkeley County sub-markets, including Azalea Center in Summerville and the Super Wal-mart in Goose Creek. Many of the older existing centers have undergone renovations, while more have plans for updated exterior facades and landscaping in 2004.
Although not a growth year in terms of total square footage, Peninsula Charleston embarked on a journey in 2003 that will see its retail viability move northward from the developed Central Business District to the transitional Neck area. Peninsula Charleston has two facets from a retail perspective. The first is the dynamic boutique market along King, Meeting, East Bay and Market Streets. Smaller shop spaces house a variety of local, regional and national retailers paying rental rates ranging from $15.00 to $65.00 triple net per square foot annually.
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