2006-12-25, 16:53

Mixed use booms in the Carolinas for 2007

By: Jonathan Groner

In an article by Daniel Beaird in its December 2006 issue, Southeast Real Estate Business reports that mixed-use development is booming in the Carolinas. Governments, developers, home buyers, and retailers all seem to find something to their liking in mixed use. Interestingly, the high cost of land is driving a move towards mixed use.

Here is the Carolina portion of the trade magazine's cover story on Southeast real estate trends:

Much like many other cities nationwide, cities in North Carolina and South Carolina have witnessed a strong demand for mixed-use developments. The mixed-use concept is viewed very favorably by the development community in the Carolinas as one way to skirt rising land prices by building all uses in one. Because of the increased cost of land, developers are forced to build up and not out, which makes ground-floor retail with office space or residences above very attractive.

"Mixed-use developments seem to be springing up everywhere in response to market forces," says Steve Mauldin, vice president of mixed/multi-use development for Crosland. Pressure is also coming from many municipalities to emphasize clustering commercial development and infrastructure together. "Based on the continuance of these issues, the near future for mixed-use development appears bright," says Erin England, an associate with Colliers Keenan retail services group, based in Charleston, South Carolina.

"Activity is widespread, but mainly in major metropolitan and suburban locations, driven by population, demographics and governmental support," Mauldin says. "However, it is important to understand the complexities of mixed-use developments in terms of time, resources, creativity and expertise, which are all required for success."

Some of the prominent mixed-use developments in the Carolinas that have recently been built include Birkdale Village in Huntersville, North Carolina; Phillips Place in Charlotte, North Carolina; Biltmore Park Town Square in Asheville, North Carolina; The Village at Sandhill in Columbia, South Carolina; and Belle Hall in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Mixed-use developments have gained a lot of support in the Carolinas as the developments are targeted at a well-educated consumer. For example, The Noisette Company is redeveloping the Charleston Naval Base into a 340-acre mixed-use project called the Navy Yard. High-end tenants like Whole Foods, Newton Farms and Earth Fare are entering the Carolinas through these mixed-use projects. In the Charleston suburb of North Mount Pleasant, the Market at Oakland is a 79-acre mixed-use development that will be anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target are getting in on the action of mixed-use projects in the Carolinas as well.

One of the largest mixed-use developments in the Carolinas resides in Charlotte. Crosland's 270-acre Blakeney has opened at Rea and Ardrey Kell roads in south Charlotte. It is anchored by Target and Harris Teeter. The population within a 3-mile radius of Blakeney is predicted to grow by more than 27 percent by 2010.

"Some of the suburban areas like mixed-use projects because if the projects are done well, they can become a gathering point for the suburban communities," England says. "Some people are just tired of the commuter lifestyle and some want a more urban experience like one might find living on the peninsula in Charleston where work, shopping, dining and recreation are all in the same area."

"The projects are so new to the Carolinas that it is not yet clear what the long term tenant interest will be," England says. "The initial projects seem to be enjoying success and as the mixed-use product type becomes better known, tenants will likely gravitate toward mixed-use developments if the developments meet the specific needs of the communities in which they are located."


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