Hospital Systems Expand Local Presence.
The Columbia, South Carolina, medical office market remained strong during the first six months of 2011, even though the market experienced a slight increase in vacancy to 12.45% at mid-year 2011. While the market saw positive absorption among multi- and single-tenant buildings during the first two quarters of the year, consolidations and downsizing within on-campus Medical Office Buildings (MOBs) resulted in a slight overall net increase of vacant space during this period. Yet even with the slight change in vacancy, hospital systems continue to expand their presence in the Columbia area.
The vacancy rate for on-campus MOBs increased from 13.88% at year-end 2010 to 15.09% at mid-year 2011. This change can be attributed to the constant movement of hospital-owned physician practices and the timing of such moves.
Even with ever-increasing concerns surrounding budget cuts and healthcare reform, the need for medical space has continued to grow, as evidenced by new construction throughout the market. Both Providence Hospital and Palmetto Health were in the midst of significant construction projects at mid-year 2011. Providence is expanding capacity at its Forest Drive and Northeast campuses with the addition of a new patient tower on Forest Drive as well as new patient rooms and the expansion of several departments on both campuses. Also at mid-year 2011, Palmetto Health was in the final planning stages for its new 76-bed Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital in Irmo, which is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2013.
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