The urban retail revitalization of Upper King Street continues to grow as it evolves into a premier retail destination. The revitalization of Upper King Street began as early as 2005 with the opening of two popular restaurants, Chai’s and Reval. Dozens of other restaurants followed mostly since 2010, including Hall’s Chop House, The Ordinary, The Darling Oyster Bar and more. There were four primary reasons for this revitalization on Upper King, the 10 block stretch between Calhoun Street and the Crosstown (Highway 17). The latest “Research and Forecast Report” by Colliers International on the Charleston retail market states that these factors include:
- Relatively inexpensive rent;
- Redevelopment of the surrounding residential areas;
- The growth of the College of Charleston; and
- Plans for significant redevelopment between King and Meeting Streets.
Upper King Street, like Charleston as a whole, experienced a significant economic decline after the Civil War which lasted well into the twentieth century. The revitalization of Upper King began in 1991 when the passenger rail terminal was transformed into the Charleston Visitor Center.
A new phase of redevelopment is evolving Upper King Street even further with the completion of several major developments (Elan, Midtown, PeopleMatter headquarters, 400 Meeting Street Apartments, and the Dewberry). There are also 350 hotel rooms and 328 apartments under construction as well. Regional and national retailers are considering expansion into this retail market as they see stores like West Elm, Beckett, The Editor and Lulu Burgess open and continue to thrive with strong same store sales, and the residential and tourist populations expand.
Charleston is booming with more than 35 people a day choosing to move and live here, making it one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. Since 2000, more than 200,000 people have moved to the tri-county area, and employment has jumped by 28 percent. Upper King has benefited from the influx of employers from the automotive industry (Daimler-Benz and Volvo), defense contractors, and the construction of Boeings first production facility outside of Seattle, Washington. Retail has expanded in response to the development of new residential areas and the redevelopment of established corridors.
Source: Collier International “Research & Forecast Report,” Charleston, SC Retail, Quarter 2, 2016
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