Positive Absorption Continues and Office Investment Sales Increase

Market Overview

The first half of 2014 ended on a positive note for the Columbia, South Carolina office market which experienced decreased vacancy, higher rental rates and increased sales activity.  The overall vacancy rate was down from 17.52% at the end of the first quarter of 2014 to 17.28% at mid-year and 19.54% at mid-year 2013.  Asking rental rates averaged $15.79 at the end of the second quarter of 2014 up from $15.44 at the end of the first quarter of 2014 and $14.71 at mid-year 2013.  

Columbia’s Central Business District (CBD) outperformed the suburban submarkets with leasing activity through the second quarter of 2014.  The CBD experienced a decline in vacancy to 11.81% at mid-year 2014 from 12.11% during the first quarter of 2014. The overall suburban vacancy rate was down to 22.43% at mid-year 2014, down from the first quarter of 2014 vacancy rate of 22.62%.  

Sales activity increased significantly during the second quarter of 2014 with the sale of two suburban office parks and the former AgFirst building in the CBD.  

  • Hudson Advisors of Dallas, Texas acquired a portfolio of 5 office buildings, in excess of 440,000 square feet, in the St. Andrews submarket.  Four of the buildings, Converse, Winthrop, Santee and Congaree are located in Synergy Business Park. The Stephenson Center was also acquired by Hudson Advisors.  
  • Three office buildings in Stoneridge Business Park located at 220, 240 and 246 Stoneridge Drive, in the St. Andrews submarket, were acquired by Stoneridge Holdings, LLC.  This marks a significant expansion for this investor that acquired Center Point I & II and the Atrium at Stoneridge, all located in the St. Andrews submarket, in 2013.
  • FLB Apartments LLC purchased the approximate 118,000 square foot former AgFirst Farm Credit Bank office building at the corner of Bull and Taylor Streets.  The Memphis-based company paid $3.8 million for the property and plans to repurpose the building into apartments.

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