The retail market in Greenville, South Carolina, has thus far managed to weather the economic storm, ending the year with an occupancy rate of 91.43%. Although this represents a slightly lower occupancy than experienced at year-end 2007, 92.26%, the stability in the Greenville market is a notable accomplishment. Substantial growth in the retail sector declined during 2008 as major retail projects were put on hold due to the national economic downturn, therefore any new growth experienced in the region was in the way of single-tenant and unanchored strip center properties.
The Greenville retail market is well-positioned to endure the national economic downturn over the course of 2009. Forbes Magazine ranked Greenville as number five in the nation for “affordable places to weather the downturn,” citing affordable housing, job growth and close proximity to major Southeastern markets as cause for the ranking.
Retail activity in the Woodruff Road area declined considerably during 2008, which resulted in occupancy decreasing from 97.15% at year-end 2007 to 94.67% at year-end 2008. Big box closures due to bankruptcy, such as Linens N’Things and Circuit City, are largely attributable for this decline.
Small boxes have also experienced decline in the Woodruff Road area as many have been unable to absorb historically high rents along the corridor, which averaged $19.91 per square foot at year-end 2008. Small shop owners have also complained about issues such as getting lost amidst big-box activity and increased traffic, which limits activity in smaller shops.
Although there was a decline in occupancy in 2008, positive traction was made on some fronts in this submarket; AT&T opened a free-standing presence at the intersection of I-85 and Woodruff Road, Chipotle committed to their first location in South Carolina, which will be located in front of The Point, and Academy Sports & Outdoor is set to move in to the former BJ’s, which went dark earlier in 2008, at the intersection of I-85 and Woodruff Road.
The purchaser of the former Greenville Mall site, Menin Development Companies Inc., has had difficulties in securing tenants for this large-scale redevelopment. They purchased the site in 2007 for $52 million, and as of year-end 2008 have only announced Rooms To Go as a tenant.
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