In 2017, Iron Bridge partnered with the City of Charleston and the Charleston Digital Corridor to develop the Charleston Technology Center (CTC). The CTC project is a 6-story, 92,000 square foot office building development in the rapidly growing upper Peninsula sector of Charleston, South Carolina. The project is under construction and estimated to deliver in late 2020. The CTC will be a landmark, ground-up office building development designed to meet the market demand from local, regional and national tech companies. Ranked #1 in a list of the 11 most anticipated real estate developments of 2020 published by CHS Today, the CTC, the first of its kind in Charleston, is specifically designed for technology firms and their employees. Iron Bridge partnered with the Charleston Digital Corridor in 2018 and assembled the development team, helped revised the project documents to accommodate institutional financing, and closed on over $54 million of debt and equity in July of 2019 to commence construction.
The project also includes an 816-space garage and new park for the City of Charleston adjacent to the office site with acquisition by the City upon development completion. Situated along the new park between the building and parking garage will be an outdoor dining terrace that will serve as an extension of the ground-floor lifestyle retail amenities located within the office building.
Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Charleston is now the #1 destination for millennials among mid-sized metros, with the generation making up the largest component (15.7%) of a city’s population on the list. In turn, this has fueled the local technology sector, the fastest growing (3x faster than the U.S. average) part of the Charleston economy and the resulting high demand for class A space (7% vacancy) that will provide the amenities and location required for attracting and retaining top tech talent. Iron Bridge anticipates this symbiotic relationship or cycle to continue to propel Charleston’s ascent in the commercial real estate sector.
At the same time, the Charleston office market is extremely tight, with high barriers to entry for development, including high land cost, long BAR approval processes and a shortage of available land. Charleston has the highest rental rates with the lowest vacancy rates in South Carolina, providing for a compelling investment opportunity.
The project’s location at 997 Morrison Drive in the aforementioned rapidly expanding corridor on the upper Peninsula is accessible to all major freeways and lies at the epicenter of a burgeoning cultural and culinary district within downtown Charleston. This area boasts numerous nearby attractions within walking distance such as the ever-popular Home Team BBQ, Revelry Brewing, Lewis Barbecue and the Royal American. In further support of the area’s growing popularity, over half a dozen multifamily developments (approximately 1,500 units), three fitness centers and over 20 additional breweries, bars and restaurants can be found in a highly accessible, one-mile radius.
The CTC is the first large scale project to utilize the Opportunity Zone financing program in Charleston, South Carolina, and will set the tone of future projects in an transitioning neighborhood.
The project was sourced through a relationship with the Charleston Digital Corridor, the city-sponsored non-profit that provides office space and shared amenities for tech startups in the city. The CDC will be an anchor tenant in the building and the building is made possible through partnerships with the City on the land, the county for certain tax advantages and the state has also supported the initiative. The provide will provide a much-needed hub for the Charleston tech industry and support higher wage employment as Charleston grows its tech sector. Through plans to hold the investment long-term, Iron Bridge looks forward to a long-standing relationship with the Charleston Digital Corridor and the City of Charleston.
Innovative Financing -- Investor Downside Protection
Iron Bridge will sell the garage to the City once completed, and will own the office building long term. Additionally, the CTC we believe was the first Opportunity Zone development in Charleston and possibly South Carolina, which provides favorable tax treatment for long term investment in low income and transitioning areas. The Tech Center will not only create hundreds of jobs during the construction process, but will house over 500 higher paying jobs, and support staff, and hopefully increase the average wage per capita on downtown Charleston. For more project info visit the CTC website.