The following is an excerpt from an article written by Jim Parker and appearing in the Charleston Post & Courier on June 9, 2018.
Yesteryear's small towns evoke glowing memories of quaint center squares, well-kept homes behind picket fences, busy stores with friendly shopkeepers and tasty eateries down the street or a short drive.
While the dreamy thoughts may be pollyanna-ish, they showcase an America that people envision even today. It's an upbeat contrast to the dour images of suburbs as sprawling and congested.
Trouble is, new small towns haven't really sprung up since the age of the pioneers, replaced in many cases by the suburbs. Arguably, though, a type of village is taking its place for buyers looking for newer places: the master planned community. Evolving over the past 40 years or so, the miles-wide communities are often designed to imitate a village lifestyle showcasing close-knit families, places to "work, shop and play" — a favorite line of marketers — and a cozy setting in which everything's within a healthy walk, bike ride or quick trip in the car.
"It's a good thing because people today, they are all about busy lives," says Brian Keels, chief operating officer of Carolina Park Development.
Carolina Park, a 2,000-acre community in the upper reaches of Mount Pleasant, boasts upscale homes in distinct neighborhoods The Village and Riverside; tapping into a host of builders and custom craftsmen; showcasing parks, pools, pavilion and a new 20-acre lake as well as shops, businesses and civic buildings.
All of this "harks back to the old days," he says.
According to Keels, the East Cooper new-homes village incorporates the basics of a master planned community, one that "thoughtfully integrates residential neighborhoods, businesses, recreation and schools in a manner that's both logical and convenient." But, he says, Carolina Park goes "several steps further by including not one but five top-rated schools, two churches, public services including police, fire and a public library and even a full-service hospital." Meanwhile, Costco discount club prepares to open its newest Charleston-area store this summer at Carolina Park, he notes.
Keels calls the community attractions "unsurpassed," citing the Residents Club with pool, tennis courts, outdoor pavilion, great lawn and dog park; miles of walking and biking trails; ponds stocked with fish; and access to the 54-acre active park.
"All of those things pay off the concept of “master planned” in an encompassing way — and we haven’t even started to talk about the homes," he says.
Carolina Park rolls out a diverse range of house styles from eight top builders. The Village spotlights townhomes, cottages and "classic" single-family homes priced from the $400,000s and up, "all in a community that is close-knit and connective, reminiscent of America’s great traditional neighborhoods," Keels says.
Riverside, meanwhile, raises custom houses on private home sites averaging an acre and priced from the $600,000s to $1 million-plus. Developers permanently preserved half of the neighborhood's 545 acres. Bolden Lake is set to open as a residential and recreational enclave, and Riverside also fronts on the Wando River.
Carolina Park also showcases an apartment-home enclave and another on the way.
"The simple truth is, when people choose to call Carolina Park home, they are choosing more than a new address and a beautiful new home," Keels says. "They’re choosing a lifestyle that enables them and their families to enjoy the best of all worlds right in their own backyards."