Space a premium as Charleston's downtown builds up

King Street

By Eric

CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Buzzing and building, new business and high demand are reshaping downtown Charleston.

Lately, Charleston's peninsula is proving to be extremely desirable for new business. And the proof is becoming hard to miss.

Store fronts are crowded. Restaurants are full. It's a recipe for rapid growth.

"It's full and there are businesses that want to come in here that can't find a place to be, which is so different from two years ago," said Susan Lucas, with the King Street Marketing Group.

Lucas says in the years following the recession, she watched businesses close one after another. Now, King Street is nearly 95 percent occupied. Lucas says renowned retailers as well as locally flavored food spots, covet any space on King.

"It's a great mix, and I think it's 70 percent local," Lucas said. "It just slowly started to creep back up again, to where it is now, where you got to know somebody (to find space)."

Maybe the premier spot available, the 17-thousand square foot space on King and Calhoun.

Lucas tells us there are buyers interested, and there have even been some near misses on deals there.

"A lot is happening in the hospitality industry in terms of growth, and a lot of that is retail and restaurant, but a huge portion of that is going to be in the hotel business," said Tripp Hays.

Hays, the marketing director of the Mills House Hotel, says Charleston hotel occupancy is well above the national average. High demand has meant more hotels.

A 120-room Holiday Inn on Meeting Street is one of two new hotels to open in 2013, and plans to transform the old Charleston County library into a 105-foot Hilton have been reborn.

"We have never seen a pipeline this full in Charleston," said Hays. "This is a pipeline that's a year, two years out. And these will come on, they'll progress on as each developer is able to move their projects forward."

Right now, there are plans for five new hotels coming to downtown Charleston in the near future.