Real Estate Experts Talk about Growth in South Carolina

Richard Breen

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Some Charleston-based experts offered their thoughts on continuing growth in the area during a discussion at the South Carolina Economic Development Summit.

The annual event, held June 14 on Daniel Island, was organized by Womble Bond Dickinson. Speakers during a real estate roundtable included Robert Barrineau of CBRE, Mark Erickson of Colliers International and Hagood Morrison II of Bridge Commercial. The trio also provided South Carolina CEO with comment on other South Carolina markets.

“The Upstate speaks for itself,” Barrineau said. “Like Charlotte, they have a lot of economic drivers, and they have two interstates.”

Barrineau expects continued growth in the Upstate as well as in Charleston. Morrison said the outlook is good for counties such as Laurens, Newberry and Orangeburg over the next 20 years.

“I think being near a population center is going to be an advantage,” he said.

With Volvo opening a factory in Berkeley County and Mercedes-Benz Vans coming to Ladson, Charleston’s industrial growth continues to creep up Interstate 26.

“People joke that Orangeburg’s going to be a suburb,” Morrison said.

Morrison also likes the prospects for the Dillion area off I-95 in the wake of an inland port opening there. Erickson trained his sights on the intersection of I-95 and I-26. He described nearby Winding Woods Commerce Park, which has already attracted DHL as a primary tenant and has a 100,000-square-foot spec building, as a “game changer.”

“John Truluck (Dorchester County’s economic development director) has done an excellent job of creating the infrastructure,” Erickson said.

Closer to Charleston, Morrison sees the three biggest challenges as affordable housing, transportation and infrastructure.

“It’s hard to locate employees near employers,” he said. “It’s hard getting people from Point A to B. There’s a mass transit solution, but it takes a lot of work together between municipalities.”

“We need to extend public transportation up into the Jedburg area now,” Barrineau added. Industrial development is already significant in that community northwest of Summerville along I-26.

With the market continuing to expand, Morrison said infrastructure projects will need to keep up, and since they take a while to complete, “the more we can get ahead of that, the better.”

Morrison said he expects to soon see residential development near the Volvo facility. Erickson pointed out the need for multi-family projects in the metro area.

“You can’t have single-family housing all over Charleston,” he said. “You need more housing density.”

Speaking of density, he mentioned a nine-story, million-square-foot, shared-space warehouse he recently toured in Brooklyn.

“That’s another trend that could be coming here at some point,” Erickson said.

Industrial growth has created workforce pressures – the April unemployment rate for metro Charleston was 2.5% – but Barrineau is optimistic the region will continue to attract newcomers to fill jobs.

“People want to be here,” he said.

So do investors, according to Morrison.

“Over the past three years, we’ve seen the supply of capital looking at Charleston really go up,” he said. “People are looking at South Carolina more than they ever have.”

Some of the reasons include overall growth throughout the Southeast as well as the region’s low cost of living.

“All the fundamentals are there,” Morrison said.

The summit included additional discussions on life sciences, legislation related to economic development, and issues regarding workforce and culture. Womble Bond Dickinson has 1,000 lawyers in 27 offices across the United States and United Kingdom, including Charleston, Columbia and Greenville.