Retail Market Overview
The Charleston, South Carolina Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to enjoy healthy, robust growth in the retail sector. Our survey indicates that the retail market in the Charleston MSA has now exceeded 12.5 million square feet. In keeping with this trend of expansion, occupancy rates for the MSA hovered at 90.5%. As in other markets in the southeast, newly constructed space is commanding “top of the market” rents due to high demand, rising construction prices and impact fees levied by municipalities. Consistent growth in population, growing employment and the overall “cache” of Charleston has caused retailers, both existing and new, to continue to seek additional sites. Charleston’s two regional malls, Northwoods Mall and Citadel Mall had an overage occupancy of 97.92%. These malls had an average sales per square foot of $314 for 2005, continued to anchor the thriving retail nodes of North Charleston and West Ashley.
The Charleston retail market has many factors currently driving its momentum. As mentioned in the 2005 Colliers Keenan Mid-Year Retail Report, Travel & Leisure Magazine’s “2005 World’s Best Cities Award” ranked Charleston sixth in the United States and Canada. Additionally, the lure of relocating to this historic coastal city has brought a large and steady stream of new residents helping to drive up demand for housing and retail space. Finally the overall charm of Downtown Charleston, particularly King Street retail, continues to expand its reputation.
Currently the MSA includes approximately 550,000 people. At this time at least 113,000 new houses are planned, permitted or under construction in the Charleston MSA. These numbers only include the projects that have been announced publicly, so projections could actually be higher. According to the Post and Courier, “If population trends hold true, these houses would be home to about 269,000 people. That’s more people than live in Charleston, North Charleston, Summerville and Mount Pleasant combined.” Ambitious new road projects, such as the Highway 17 expansion in Mt. Pleasant, are being planned and implemented throughout the area to accommodate growth.
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