Large Users Relocate; Vacancy Rates Decrease.

The Greenville, South Carolina, retail market saw a decrease in vacancy rates during 2011. Many big-boxes left dark by national closures such as Linens N’ Things, Circuit City and Goody’s provided a unique opportunity for retailers to pursue a flight to quality at what could be considered a value price, while some big-box vacancies in less-than-stellar locations have since been repurposed for alternative non-retail uses. This activity has resulted in a significant decline in vacancy in the Greenville market, which finished 2011 with a vacancy of 9.24%.  

Vacancies in retail corridors created by the previous economic downturn allowed large users to relocate to space that would previously have been outside of their economic reach. The flight to quality was the first trend to emerge following the economic downturn, and remains the most important factor in a retailer’s decision to open a new store or relocate to an existing center. The lack of new product coming online has made it difficult for some retailers to find the “perfect location”, and as a result some retailers have chosen not to enter the South Carolina market until new development occurs. 

Magnolia Park, a 550,000-square-foot retail center anchored by Regal Cinemas, will see an influx of activity with retailers Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us moving into a newly-built 60,000-square-foot building. Magnolia Park is home to such tenants as Sports Authority, Rooms To Go, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Costco Wholesale Club. The center, located at the intersection of I-85, I-385 and Woodruff Road, is part of Greenville’s most popular shopping district. 

While Food Lion recently closed three of it’s six stores in the Greenville area, Walmart is launching a new initiative to introduce new smaller, grocery-centered stores such as Walmart Neighborhood Market and Walmart Express. At year-end 2011, three sites were under contract in the Upstate.  

Other activity included the recent sale of Lewis Plaza on Augusta Road, Greenville’s first shopping center, built in 1948. Preliminary plans are to redevelop the village-like center as a Publix-anchored complex with inclusion of a Chic-fil-A Restaurant. Additionally, clothing retailer Anthropologie is expected to arrive downtown in 2012 while QuikTrip, a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based convenience chain store, plans to open at least six stores in the area by year-end 2012.

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