Local manufacturing continued to expand during 2008, particularly in the defense sector, as local manufacturers continued to receive SPAWAR contracts. Force Protection, the world’s leading manufacturer of blast resident vehicles, continued to grow as the Humvee is being phased out of military use. The assets of Protected Vehicles, another Charleston-based SPAWAR contractor, were purchased by Patriarch Partners, LLC, a private equity firm that owns American LaFrance. Additional military contracts awarded to Stanley, Inc. and EMA resulted in 300,000 square feet of absorption in the industrial market.
The local shut down of Leggett and Platt, Inc resulted in 250,000 square feet of sublease space at less-than-market rates coming online. While the national union strike at Boeing resulted in a temporary shutdown in Vought’s North Charleston facility, the shutdown was short-lived and resulted in no long-term impact to the market.
Several new companies entered the Charleston market during 2008. One of the largest investments was by Delfin, USA, which purchased the former Chevron Terminal and announced a $55-million capital investment to produce industrial lubricants. Jacob’s Engineering chose North Charleston for an assembly operation and leased a 101,000-square-foot facility in the North Rhett area. Zodiac of North America also announced an expansion of their rubber-bottomed boat manufacturing facility in Summerville.
Several new industrial projects were under development at year-end 2008, including a 390,000-square-foot distribution center by Lauth Properties and a 280,000-square-foot front-load facility at the Charleston Regional Business Center by Childress Klein. Jamestown Properties and Childress Klein also announced a joint venture on Palmetto Commerce Parkway, named Cross Point, and were marketing parcels for sale at year-end 2008.
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