Press Release brought to you by NAI Columbia

2Q16 Columbia Retail Market Report: Grocers Aggressively Expand as New Players Enter Columbia Market


Press Release






COLUMBIA, SC (July 28, 2016) Retailers continue to express interest in the Columbia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), continuing momentum that began in 2015.  Columbia’s second quarter overall retail vacancy slipped even further down to 6.0% and market absorption was strong spiking to 493,141 square feet (SF). Top existing grocers, like The Fresh Market and Kroger, are moving forward with stores to meet the needs of a growing residential population in Columbia. As the market awaits those deliveries, other major grocers are preparing to open in the Midlands. The highly anticipated, ±153,000 SF Costco Wholesale Warehouse, located off of Piney Grove Road and Fernandina Road, is scheduled to open this August. In addition, Sam’s Club opened a new 136,000 SF store recently this summer at the Village of Sandhill.


Also, a major grocery chain dominating the European marketplace is planning a massive United States expansion, with three stores planned for South Carolina. Lidl, described as a cross between Walmart and Trader Joe’s, has proposed two locations in Columbia and a third in Orangeburg.  The company spokesman says they are hoping to have stores open by or before 2018.  Lowes Foods, a Winston-Salem based grocery chain, announced plans for two stores during the second quarter in the Lexington submarket.


Overall the retail market is seeing significant ground-up construction and redevelopment of older shopping centers as the desire for quality space grows. Columbia’s major retail corridors: Harbison, downtown Columbia, the Golden Triangle (generally Forest Acres to Garners Ferry Road within the I-77 loop), Northeast Columbia and Lexington continue to see the most activity.


Harbison (Dutch Fork/Irmo market):

This submarket continues to be the premiere shopping corridor in  the  Columbia market. Costco plans to open the doors at its first Midlands store and fifth South Carolina store on August 10 at Piney Grove Road and Fernandina Road. Also, a new Publix grocery store is set to open in September off Chapin Road and will be the flagship store for Chapin Crossing.


Downtown Columbia (Central Business District):

Driven by the University of South Carolina’s rapidly growing student population, new retailers are calling downtown Columbia “home.” The new student housing explosion (with the vast majority opening this August) has increased the demand for retail and restaurants, breweries and bars. The Casual Pint, a Tennessee craft beer maker, celebrated its grand opening at 807 Gervais Street. The adaptive reuse for Columbia’s old fire department headquarters on Senate Street has been leased to three different restaurant concepts which should begin construction this year.


Also, longtime plans to build a Kroger anchored mixed-use development on the former Capital City Stadium continues to move forward. The city of Columbia’s Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to request to rezone the property from a light industrial district to general commercial. Conceptual plans include a Starbucks, apparel store and drive-through pharmacy. In other news in this submarket, The Army Navy Store downtown on Main Street has closed and a 6-lane bowling alley will take its place, according to the developer. Renovations are estimated at $4-$5 million for the historic structure. Over at 1635 Main Street, plans unfold for Lula Drake wine bar.  Smoothie King, a healthy concept smoothie shop, is opening on Lincoln Street in the Vista as well as Palmetto Twist, a monogramming boutique.  A 10-screen “luxury” cinema at The Commons at BullStreet was announced to serve as an anchor for the 85 planned retailers (400,000 SF) in the mixed-use center.  The theater will include a full-service restaurant and bar with a creative American bistro cuisine (targeted completion summer 2018).  Hughes Development also delivered over 26,000 SF of prime retail space in the ground floor of the First Base Building in the second quarter. The Arnold Companies dedicated West End Alley in the 700 block of Gervais Street with a couple new restaurants including Tin Lizzy’s Cantina as well as City Bar and Fondue.


The Golden Triangle:

This area is generally defined from Forest Acres near Trenholm Plaza over to Garners Ferry Road (within the I-77 beltway), stretching also to include the Whole Foods anchored Cross Hill Market and Target anchored Shoppes at Woodhill area. The Beach Company closed on the long anticipated former Cardinal Newman School on Forest Drive for their $58 million mixed-use development.  Conceptual plans include approximately 42,000 SF of retail to help satisfy the strong demand and tight vacancy in this coveted submarket.  On the outskirts of Forest Acres, Piggly Wiggly has announced plans to close its longstanding store on West Beltline Boulevard by years end.  Hickory Tavern Grill and Raw Bar, along with MOD Pizza, will be located side by side at Shoppes at Woodhill. Hickory Tavern will occupy 6,000 SF and MOD will occupy about 2,400 SF.


Northeast Columbia:

This submarket is excited to welcome The Fresh Market on Two Notch Road, one of two new stores in Columbia. The location is currently under construction with expected delivery in early fall 2016. It will anchor the Shoppes at Two Notch. This submarket leads the Columbia market in construction activity, with 7 buildings currently under construction, totaling ±205,941 SF. Kroger was delivered officially opening its doors July 20. The ±124,000 SF grocery story is a one-of-a-kind concept in the Palmetto State with upscale service departments, a drive-thru pharmacy, fuel center, Starbucks, apparel department and more. The store is located in the Killian’s Crossing shopping complex. Famous Toastery announced it will open its first location in Columbia at the former McAlister’s Deli building at 119 Sparkleberry Lane with more locations opening next year.  Lidl submitted a site plan for a new grocery store at Hardscrabble Road and Summit Parkway.


Cayce /West Columbia:

Walmart opened a 24-hour neighborhood market at 1355 Knox Abbott Drive in Cayce comprising 41,000 SF (grocery, pharmacy and fuel station).  A new Goodwill Store also opened this summer at 2119 Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia with 35,000 SF including a Goodwill retail store, donation center and outlet store.



Lexington has the lowest vacancy out of all the submarkets at 1.8%. This submarket will be the home to two new Lowe’s Food Stores. The Winston-Salem based chain plans to build a store at the corner of U.S. 1 and Charter Oaks Road, with a second location to be built on Hope Ferry Road at U.S. 378. These will be the company’s first stores in the Midlands and plan to open in late 2017.  The Fresh Market is building a third new store in the Midlands on Highway 378 in the heart of Lexington.  Lidl also submitted site plans for a new store at the 5200 block of Sunset Boulevard across from Walgreens and Aldi.


In addition to grocery, Lexington Town Hall is preparing to debut its 900-seat outdoor amphitheater this fall. It will be one of the largest venues of its type in the Columbia area and the Town hopes to attract shoppers to the specialty retail hub taking shape.


For more information, please contact Patrick Palmer at or (803) 744-9853.



About NAI Avant

NAI Avant's commercial real estate business is one of the largest in the Southeast.  With over 65 professionals, the firm provides comprehensive brokerage, leasing, development, property and project management services.  For nearly three consecutive decades, the group has had more of its brokerage professionals recognized as top producers or recipients of the top awards than any other firm in South Carolina. As a member of the NAI Global Network, NAI Avant is affiliated with more than 375 offices strategically located throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific, with over 6,700 local market professionals, managing over 380 million square feet of property. NAI Global is the single largest, most powerful global network of owner-operated commercial real estate brokerage firms and is a wholly owned subsidiary of C-III Capital partners.  NAI Global Member firms, leaders in their local markets, are actively managed to work in unison and provide clients with exceptional solutions to their commercial real estate needs. NAI Avant’s Property and Project Management Group currently manages a multi-million square foot portfolio of properties across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Through its Avant Healthcare Division, the firm provides comprehensive services to hospitals, clinics, and physician groups. NAI Avant, founded in 1966, is headquartered in Columbia, SC with an office in Charleston, SC. Find out more about NAI Avant and its services at Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NAIAvant and like us on Facebook.




Contact: Bruce Harper, President and Broker-In-Charge, Columbia Office, 803-744-9805, or


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