[ ABOVE: UBJ reporter Trevor Anderson (left) talks with Andrew Babb, a developer and broker with NAI Earle Furman, and Andy Hayes, a partner with Spartanburg-based Spencer/Hines Properties. ]
Local brokers continue to see a flurry of interest in development
Spartanburg County’s commercial real estate market is on a hot streak.
Demand for industrial, office, restaurant and retail space is at an all-time high, according to local brokers and developers.
And with several developments on the horizon, experts are bullish the market is nearing a point of “critical mass” that could usher in a new era of economic growth and prosperity.
“I don’t know if anyone really knows what that point is,” said Andrew Babb, a developer and broker with NAI Earle Furman. “But it sure feels like we’re right here on the edge of it.”
Since 2010, the county has attracted more than $4.3 billion in capital investment and about 9,000 jobs, according to the Economic Futures Group.
Spartanburg is home to a variety of global and national companies, including BMW, Toray, Milliken & Co., Denny’s Corp., Adidas, Rite Aid and others.
70 new businesses
During the past three years, nearly 70 new businesses have opened in the city of Spartanburg.
New restaurants, grocery stores, medical offices and retail shops are cropping up in other parts of the county, particularly in high-density shopping areas on the west side, Duncan and Boiling Springs.
“Everyone is busy,” said Andy Hayes, a partner with Spartanburg-based Spencer/Hines Properties. “There is growth everywhere, especially on the west side… A lot of people want to know what’s happening in Spartanburg.”
A new $20 million AC Hotel by Marriott is under construction downtown. Plans to redevelop the 92-year-old Montgomery Building at the corner of Church and St. John streets are moving forward.
Spartanburg businessman Corry Oakes has purchased the historic Lundy Building across from Morgan Square. He plans to renovate the building to provide space for a new restaurant Mezcal, other retail opportunities and apartments.
Local developer Royce Camp is planning a five-story, 35,000-square-foot mixed-use building beside Carriage House Wines at the intersection of West Main Street and Daniel Morgan Avenue.
Drayton Mills Marketplace recently announced four anchor tenants, including a 7,000-square-foot restaurant by Greenville restaurateur Rick Erwin, Mõzza Roasters and Mellotte Enterprises, Zen Studios’ yoga and a regional office for Agracel Inc.
There is a spate of other projects in the works.
“All boats rise on an incoming tide,” Babb said.
“A shot in the arm”
Babb and Hayes said they believe Spartanburg’s energetic, positive leadership and support from local colleges have aided the business climate.
They said the rise of young leaders like Geordy Johnson, CEO of Johnston Development Associates, and Allen Smith, president and CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, have been a “shot in the arm” for the county.
As of June, Spartanburg’s 5.6 percent jobless rate was the 12th lowest in South Carolina and just seven-tenths of a percentage point above the national 4.9 percent rate, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
The availability of affordable real estate and a low cost-of-living compared with other parts of the country have also attracted fresh blood to the market, Babb and Hayes said.
“I think all of the jobs created in Spartanburg have started to have an effect,” Hayes said. “The quality of life here is fantastic. You can get a lot more bang for your buck.”
Rick Cobden made the jump from commercial real estate sales in 2010 to start his own facilities maintenance firm Spartanburg Maintenance LLC. He’s glad he did.
“Our phones are ringing every day,” Cobden said. “I see people in suits – economic development folks or from another city – walking around downtown all the time. Everyone wants to know what the magic is… Spartanburg has finally figured out its identity. I see this big snowball coming down the hill and it’s getting bigger and bigger. The foundation is strong is the momentum is incredible. We’re so blessed to be living here.”