The Greenville, South Carolina, retail market experienced a downturn in 2009 as occupancy declined from 91.43% to 86.789% during the twelve month period ending December 31, 2009. This decline in occupancy is largely attributable to national big box closures, which comprised more than 50% of the available space at year-end 2009. While the market experienced very little in big box absorption over the course of the year, there were several fitness centers in the market with an interest in back-filling this vacant space at year-end.
Big box closures resulted in decreased shopper traffic, and thus led many in-line retailers to renegotiate lease terms for existing space. The average asking rate for vacant space declined over the course of the year as well, from $16.39 per square foot at year-end 2008 to $14.81 per square foot at year-end 2009.
The Cherrydale area of Greenville remained stable during 2009, with the majority of vacant space comprising of a former Goody’s and Pier 1 space. Small shops in the submarket have weathered well, and average asking rental rates for shop space averaged the highest per square foot in the Greenville market at year-end 2009, $18.00 per square foot. Some construction is anticipated in Cherrydale in 2010, and will consist of predominately fast food retailers.
Although the East Side of Greenville is home to the best retail demographics in the upstate, at year-end 2009 there was 170,515 square feet of available anchor space on the market. This vacant space resulted from the closing of several regional grocery stores over the past few years. This market should be well poised for recovery due to the demographic stability of the population, but it may be several years before the available space is fully absorbed.
The Haywood Road area stood at 74.85% occupied at year-end 2009. Haywood Mall has long been the retail driver of this area, but both the mall and the surrounding area have begun to show their age. Stakeholders in the area have recently become organized and an underground utility project is in the planning process, but Simon, the owner of Haywood Mall, has yet to get involved.
The Laurens Road/Pleasantburg Drive (Midtown) submarket remained stable during 2009, finishing the year with an occupancy rate of 89.53%. Fresh Market relocated from the East Side to the intersection of Laurens Road & Pleasantburg Drive in 2009 in order to be more centralized within the Greenville market. At year-end 2009, there was only one big box space available, accounting for 27,834 square feet of the available space within this submarket.
The Simpsonville area finished the year with only 15,215 square feet of available space in the submarket, giving it the highest occupancy rate in the Greenville market at year-end 2009. This area, along with the South side of Greenville remained healthy during 2009 and finished the year with occupancy rates that hovered around 90.0%. The South side of Greenville, around Fountain Inn, should continue to see slow growth as the retail market rebounds in 2010 and 2011.
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