Strong But Limited Activity in Post-Recessionary Market.
The Greenville, South Carolina, office market experienced consistent activity throughout 2011, absorbing 128,749 square feet over the course of the year. While activity remained strong, both leasing volume and job growth remained largely limited to the expansion of existing tenants in the market as the majority of leases executed in 2011 were comprised of renewals and relocations. The lack of new tenants to the market resulted in a lackluster economic performance throughout the year.
Job growth in the Greenville market was positive in 2011, adding 2,900 jobs from December 2010 to November 2011, which lowered the unemployment rate to 7.7% (the December 2011 numbers were not yet available at the time this report was written). While positive job growth bodes well for the stability of the economy, these numbers are not as strong as one would expect in a post-recessionary economy. The national housing market continued to impact the Greenville market in 2011, preventing large operations from relocating as workers were unable to sell their homes in other markets. Until stability returns to the national housing market, job growth will be mainly limited to the expansion of existing businesses in the Greenville market.
Although job growth remained limited, new construction returned to the office market in 2011. Hughes Development broke ground on the One office/retail project in September at the corner of Main and Washington Streets in downtown Greenville. At year-end 2011, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., Certus Bank and Anthropologie were committed to occupying space in the development upon completion.
Even with new construction, signs of the last economic downturn continued to linger in the local market. Liberty Square faced occupancy challenges in 2011 and was ultimately acquired by the lender, Lehman Brothers, who subsequently assumed the role of asset manager for the property. Lehman Brothers’ strategy at year-end 2011 was to focus on the stabilization and repositioning of the property. It remained unclear if they would maintain ownership over the long-term.
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