Columbia Retail Market Continues Improvement

Market Overview

The Columbia, South Carolina retail market continued to perform very well in the second half of 2004 with only minor market fluctuations in occupancy rates during the last six months of 2004. Strong national consumer confidence and increasing disposable income continued to propel the retail market. Market occupancy at year-end 2004 for the Columbia metropolitan area was 90.7%, up slightly from the mid-year 2004 level of 90.3%. With continued strong occupancy levels, rental rates improved from the mid-year 2004 average rate of $11.36 per square foot to $12.18 per square foot. This increase can be attributed to a significant increase in rental rates in Southeast Columbia’s new Wal-Mart Supercenter development and the new Woodhill Mall. These two projects were responsible for adding about 400,000 square feet of high quality retail space to the Columbia market during the second half of 2004.

Columbia’s four enclosed regional malls, totaling over 3,500,000 square feet, remained at almost the same levels as mid-year 2004. Occupancy rates were 93.8%, down slightly from 94.5% at mid-year 2004. Average rental rates for the enclosed malls were nearly unchanged from mid-year 2004, at $24.51 per square foot. Average sales per square foot in the enclosed malls remained strong at $287.21 per square foot. The average pro rata pass-through expenses for enclosed malls were relatively unchanged at $11.83 per square foot.

Market Forecast

The market forecast for Columbia’s retail market for 2005 is very positive. Of particular interest will be Northeast Columbia’s Village at Sandhills, which opens during the first half of 2005. This will be a dynamic boost for Northeast Columbia’s retail market. Additional in-fill development will continue to take place as evidenced by the in-fill areas of Harbison along Columbiana Drive and in Lexington along US Hwy 378. Occupancy rates should continue to rise and rental rates are anticipated to increase due largely to increases in land cost, construction costs and rising occupancy levels.

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