The medical office market in Columbia, South Carolina, has continued to expand over the twelve month period ending at mid-year 2008.  The healthcare sector of the economy has grown at a quicker pace than total employment, growing by 3.7% from June 2007 to June 2008.  Total employment increased by 0.1% over this same period which demonstrates the ever-increasing importance of the healthcare market to the local economy.

The medical office market in Columbia totaled 3,041,576 square feet at mid-year 2008, of which 56% was space in hospital-owned medical office buildings(MOB).  Although the medical sector of the economy continued to expand during 2007 and 2008, the MOB market experienced a decline in total occupied space of 78,476 square feet.  This decline in occupancy can partially be attributed to the trend that has been experienced over the past several years of private practices constructing single-tenant and owner-occupied space.  

In recent years  low interest rates have motivated physicians to construct their own space.  But as construction costs continue to rise, many practices are carefully waying the option of owning space versus leasing MOB space.  At mid-year 2008, many practices were paying as much as $95.00 to $100.00 per square foot to upfit MOB space, while the cost to construct a new freestanding practice averaged $160.00 per square foot.

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