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Columbia retail development at highest level in years, Colliers says

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Staff Report
Published Nov. 3, 2015

Columbia retail development is at its highest level in years, with approximately 1.5 million square feet of space expected to be developed over the next two years, according to a third quarter report from Colliers International.

Only 650,000 square feet of retail space has been developed in the market since 2008, but a recovering economy, job creation and population growth have all contributed to greater demand for the service, Colliers said.

“Retailers are responding by expanding their footprints, entering new markets and growing their presence in existing markets,” the real estate agency said. “Columbia, South Carolina is among the markets benefitting from enhanced market conditions.”

The third quarter ended with a total vacancy rate of 8.3%, down 8.5% at mid-year 2015. That rate has remained flat over the past year, despite new development activity, and most new projects are expected to deliver with very little to no vacant space.

Vacancy is extremely limited at prime locations, Colliers said, as retailers place a greater emphasis on visibility and high traffic count intersections. That has led to developers turning to new construction or redevelopment of older centers, which in turn has given way to rising construction costs and increased competition among retailers for pushing up rental rates. Asking rates for shop space averaged $14.55 per square foot triple-net at the end of the third quarter, up from $13.07 a year ago.

There have been a host of new developments in the city’s entertainment districts, including in Five Points where a Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina opened in the former Qdoba Space while a Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop opened along Harden Street. Publico Kitchen + Tap will soon open on Greene in the former Garibaldi space, and recently plans debuted to convert the Exxon gas station into a parking lot.

On Main Street, a new-concept Starbucks opened at the Sheraton Hotel, and Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria will soon be unveiled at Main and Gervais streets in the former Roll Call space, its first East Coast location.

And in the Vista, the Grill Marks and Tin Lizzy’s restaurants have opened, as has coffee and wine bar The Wire Goat. Newk’s Eatery will also soon debut, and a brewery is planned for the complex along with additional space for retail or office use.

Combined gross retail sales for Richland and Lexington counties reached $1.8 billion in July, with Lexington’s $1 billion gross increasing 15.1% over July of 2014. Richland County’s $792.8 million gross was down from July of the previous year.

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