The Columbia, South Carolina retail market continued to expand over the first half of 2007, absorbing 291,626 square feet of big box and big box-anchored space.  Market rental rates remained flat over this period, averaging $13.52 per square foot, but a divergence continued to grow between rental rates in existing retail space and in new developments.  Existing small shop space averaged $17.05 per square foot at mid-year 2007, but retailers looking for prime retail space should expect to pay anywhere from $17.00-$35.00 per square foot due to escalating land and construction costs in new developments.

While growth continued at sustainable levels in the first two quarters of 2007, the vitality was not as robust as that experienced in 2006.  This slowdown may be for a several reasons.  The retail market is very closely linked to the health of the economy, and although the local economy continued to expand, a weakening national economy may have altered consumer expectations and slowed retail spending on a local level.  Additionally, at mid-year 2007, the market was still absorbing many new developments that were announced in 2006.  

Over the previous twelve months, the market has absorbed a large percentage of new space.  The Village at Sandhill continued to attract new tenants, as the freestanding Belk came online in the Spring of 2007.  Lexington Pavilion, the new Target-anchored center on Highway 378 in Lexington, had only two retail spaces available at mid-year 2007,  The new Wal-Mart Supercenter on Bush River road has also leased all but two small tenant spaces.  Two additional Wal-Mart Supercenters are under construction on Killian Road and in the Red Bank area of Lexington County, which will have a large amount of shadow space available for small retailers.  With this large amount big-box development occurring in the market, it is likely that the market will enter a holding pattern until any remaining excess space is absorbed and new retailers come into the Columbia market.

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