July 28, 2014

Business Notebook

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has purchased another of the buildings along Rivermont Drive, with plans eventually to use the space for parking.

Local & State


Riverbanks buys building along Rivermont Drive

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has purchased another of the buildings along Rivermont Drive, with plans eventually to use the space for parking.

The zoo – technically the Richland-Lexington Riverbanks Parks District – already had purchased several buildings along Rivermont, which is a frontage road that can be seen from I-126. One of those buildings has been torn down, and a portion of the second building was removed to make room for parking.

The purchase of 414 Rivermont Drive gives the zoo ownership of all of the buildings along Rivermont. The zoo paid $1.55 million for the 42,000-square-foot industrial building, according to Colliers International, which brokered the sale. The building's tenant, Spectra Integration, will be allowed to remain in the structure through November.

The zoo has long-term plans to tear down the building, but the timing depends on the progress and cost of contract bids for other parts of the zoo's $32 million renovation project, according to Riverbanks CEO Satch Krantz.

Jaguar, Land Rover Columbia dealership to be combined along Jamil Road

Construction has begun on a combined Jaguar Columbia and Land Rover Columbia dealership at 540 Jamil Road. The new 23,000-square-foot facility – which will have sales, service and parts departments – is expected to be completed in March and will cost more than $4.3 million, the company said in a release.

However, both dealerships will be open for business during construction at the site. The Jaguar service department, which is still at 3700 Fernandina Road, will move to the new location in January. The combined dealership has 50 employees. A grand opening is planned for the spring.

The British automakers have been united as a joint venture since 1968, and since 2008 have operated as a subsidiary of the Indian automaker Tata Motors.

Nation & World

Zillow buying Trulia in $3.5 billion deal

Zillow and Trulia, two companies that changed the way people shop for homes, are combining. Real estate website operator Zillow Inc. is buying its rival in a $3.5 billion deal that will make it the biggest player in the online real estate information market.

Zillow will also become king of real estate listings available on smartphones and tablets – the fastest growing area for listings. Both Zillow and Trulia were founded nearly a decade ago and have capitalized on Americans’ increasing preference for researching purchases, including homes, online, rather than relying solely on a real estate agent. According to Benchmark estimates, Zillow and Trulia are No. 1 and 2 in the online real estate market, followed by No. 3 Move Inc. Zillow reported nearly 83 million monthly unique visitors in June. Trulia reported 54 million.

Both Zillow, which went public in 2011, and Trulia, which had its stock market debut in 2012, offer similar information like neighborhood school and crime reports and mortgage calculators. Both Zillow and San Francisco-based Trulia generate revenue through advertising and subscription software and services sold to real estate agents.

Trulia shareholders will receive 0.444 shares of Zillow common stock for each share they hold, and will own approximately 33 percent of the combined company. Zillow Inc. shareholders will receive one comparable share of the combined company and own the other two-thirds of the business. The combined company will keep both the Trulia and Zillow brands.

Professors complain U.S. restrictions on small drone use to stifle academic research

University and college professors are complaining that government restrictions on the use of small drones are likely to stifle academic research.

In a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday, 30 professors said a clarification the agency issued last month on what rules model aircraft hobbyists must follow would eliminate the ability of researchers to use small, unmanned aircraft on low-altitude flights over private property.

Model aircraft have increased in sophistication and capability to the point that they are virtually indistinguishable from small drones. And the price of unmanned aircraft has been dropping, making them more affordable for researchers and other users.

The FAA allows hobbyists to use model aircraft or small drones so long as they keep them away from airports, fly them under 400 feet and keep the aircraft within sight of the remote-controlling operator at all times. However, commercial operators or people working for private colleges or universities are prohibited from using the same aircraft under FAA’s clarification of its policies, said Paul Voss, an associate professor of engineering at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., who spearheaded the letter.

Joey Holleman, Kristy Eppley Rupon and The Associated Press contributed.

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