The Columbia, South Carolina, retail market experienced robust growth during 2007, with the market expanding by 723,615 square feet.  The majority of growth occurred in the Northeast and Lexington markets, as the Wal-Mart in Redbank came online and the Village at Sandhill on Clemson Road continued its expansion.  This growth can largely be attributed to the health and vibrancy of the Columbia market.  Employment growth in the region increased by 5,700 jobs over the course of 2007, with 2,300 of those jobs being within the retail sector.  

Even with the significant amount of new space developed in 2007, market occupancy remained almost unchanged, increasing slightly from 90.66% at year-end 2006 to 90.78% at year-end 2007.  Historically speaking, the market occupancy for the Columbia retail market has hovered in the range of 10% to 12%.  This demonstrates both the stability of the market and the fact that the majority of new space developed is either pre-leased or build-to-suit, rather than speculatively developed space. 

Suburban Markets

The Lexington market experienced the most retail growth with over 473,000 square feet of new retail space added to the market during 2007.  The retail corridor along Highway 378 is now home to Target, Cost Plus World Market, Best Buy and Home Depot.   Even with significant development over the past 12 months, interest from retailers remains high in this area.  The challenge facing future development is the sloping topography along Highway 378 and the lack of available sites.

Harbison Boulevard and the surrounding corridor remained relatively unchanged over the twelve months prior to year-end 2007.  With the addition of the Kohl’s at the Harbison/St. Andrews Road intersection, there is a scarcity of developable land.  Any future expansion of this corridor will likely occur as residential growth continues to move towards Lake Murray.

With an occupancy of 98.70%, the Forest Acres area remained stable during 2007 with relatively little change.  Over the next twelve months, however, this area will experience growth along Forest Drive as several small retail developments are planned.  The dense population surrounding this corridor gives cause for additional restaurant developments in the area.  Construction of a new restaurant carrying the Zoe’s Kitchen flag has commenced, and rumors of new developments containing eateries and upscale boutiques are circulating.

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