A report comprised by Colliers International forecasts a continued growth in the Columbia area known as the Golden Triangle.
The area spans two retail corridors at Forest Drive and Garner’s Ferry/Devine Street.
At the end of the second quarter of 2017, the Golden Triangle had a 2.3% vacancy rate and rental rates were $23.88 per square foot. That is the second-highest rental rate in the Midlands, behind downtown’s total asking price of $25 per square foot.
Colliers researcher Ron Anderson cited three distinct factors for the consistent growth of the area.
The first is an underlying demographic that includes millennials and young families moving back to the neighborhoods that feed into quality schools and are a quick drive to downtown Columbia.
“Young people wanting to be ‘close in’ is a national trend, but can get expensive in places like Atlanta and Charlotte,” Anderson said. “It’s a premium people are willing to pay.”
The second factor is the limited number of sites to build on in the corridor.
“It’s not like Lexington where you can bulldoze a peach farm or collard farm and build,” Anderson said. “Everything is all built out.”
The report gives examples of land razed and redeveloped with higher-quality properties, including Trader Joe’s (a former gym), Five Guys (a former convenience store) and a converted K-Mart turned into a center with three junior anchors and new retail space.
Anderson credited Columbia-based developer Edens with guiding the area’s development for almost a decade. He said the strategic replacement of regional tenants with national ones at Trenholm Plaza has made the area more desirable.
“Edens was the first group to trying anything like this in Columbia,” Anderson said.
Eden redeveloped three of the nine shopping centers in the area, including Woodhill Mall and Cross Hill Commons.
“The strategy is to take a $6-a-foot tenant and replace them with a $25-a-foot tenant,” Anderson said. “With the limited number of sites, Edens was able to buy up the land around them and not have to worry about competition.”