DI’s commercial space occupancy greater than 90 percent
As part of his job as a commercial real estate broker with Lee & Associates of Charleston, Pete Harper stays on top of the local market. If his recent figures tabulating commercial occupancy rates on Daniel Island are any indication, the island business community is nearing a long anticipated “sweet spot” in terms of growth.
According to Harper, of the estimated 1.6 million square feet (SF) of available office and retail space on the island, about 146,593 SF is vacant. When broken down, that equates to an occupancy rate of about 90 percent for office and 98 percent for retail. Even though the first two quarters of 2019 were a bit slow in terms of new leases, Harper remains confident about what’s to come.
“My whole theory is once this island is done, and everything keeps developing around us, we are going to be such an in town desirable submarket for both residential and office, there’s gonna be no stopping it. I think the whole town center concept is going to be realized.”
Among those companies taking up a sizeable footprint on Daniel Island is JW Aluminum, a large manufacturing firm that occupies 21,000 square feet in The Landing on Fairchild Street.
“That’s kind of unheard of on Daniel Island, in terms of a new tenant,” added Harper, in reference to the amount of space leased by the company.
JW Aluminum, currently in the midst of a major expansion of its Goose Creek facility, moved their headquarters to the island just last month. Services, amenities, and the close proximity of other businesses were among many of the community’s selling points, noted Stan Brant, the company’s chief operating officer.
Another tenant making the decision to invest in Daniel Island is HITT Construction. The company has leased the entire building at 216 Seven Farms Drive. Harper helped broker the deal.
“The main reason they decided they wanted to be on Daniel Island is because they could walk to lunch, there are after work options, their employees can live here,” he said. “It’s the right demographic for a lot of their employees and it really made sense.”
Harper’s numbers are revealing in other ways as well. According to a spreadsheet he updates regularly, the island’s population is also steadily growing. Using national averages and the number of occupied residential units (homes, apartments, condos), he places the current population at 14,841. But in just three to five years, when residential construction is complete, he predicts that number could swell to 18,297. Take the island’s current number of employees – 7,284 – and bump it up to 9,949 by 2024 – and you have what Harper believes will be an overall total of 28,246 people living and working on the island at its completion.
“What the amazing thing is – is that number of people will be within a 2.5 mile radius of right where we’re sitting,” noted Harper, while chatting with The Daniel Island News at the Starbucks on Fairchild Street. “…That’s a pretty dense population – and it’s great demographics.”
Not only will that be good for business, noted Harper, who has lived on the island with his family for 17 years, but it will be good for residential real estate as well.
“I think when it’s just existing inventory on Daniel Island, all of sudden we’re going to start seeing 5, 10, 15 percent price appreciation a year,” he said. “I really do, with everything that’s going on.”