May 28, 2016
Hundred Oaks Parkway kicks off at U.S. Highway 17A and winds for a mile or more past a natural amphitheater, fire station and YMCA before reaching the first homes at Summerville-based The Ponds. Once there, perusers see a variety of home styles from a half-dozen or so builders: Charleston single homes, Lowcountry designs with large porches, high-end properties on wooded and marsh lots. Interested parties can meet with sales agents at a former 19th century wooden farm house set under grand oaks and check out rows of muscadine grapes. Residents swim in the community pool.Hundred Oaks Parkway kicks off at U.S. Highway 17A and winds for a mile or more past a natural amphitheater, fire station and YMCA before reaching the first homes at Summerville-based The Ponds.
First-time buyers can purchase homes priced from less than $270,000; well-heeled house hunters can find models in the $600,000s. One neighborhood is set aside for active adults. Residents can go the farmer’s market and concerts or paddle a kayak in the lake without leaving the property. Think of the The Ponds this way: It’s grown from scratch to 1,000 or more people in the past 10 years, an instant small town.
“I think the thing that’s great about the neighborhood is it lets (all types of) buyers in,” says Sean Dycus, agent with Berkshire Hathaway Southern Coast Real Estate who is marketing a house on Lotz Drive. “It offers people (a chance) to maximize what they do in a neighborhood.”
The Ponds is considered a master planned community, one of a dozen or more in the Charleston area in the early, middle and later stages of growth. They start with large scale sites spanning 1,000-4,000 acres, typically include multiple builders and showcase numerous attractions from pools to tennis courts. They sport 1,000-2,000 or more single family homes and often a cluster of townhomes and condos when built out, typically over one or two decades. They touch markets in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
“I think it’s the sense of community that MPCs are designed to create that ultimately is the biggest draw,” says Julie Dombrowski, consultant with DI Development Co. — creator of Daniel Island and now overseeing the work at Carnes Crossroads master-planned community between Summerville and Goose Creek. The village off U.S. highways 17A and 176 will count 4,000-5,000 units when completed. It sports 95 homes now, and the average sales price tops $357,000. Home sizes average 2,361 square feet, Dombrowski says.
Carnes Crossroads features include revamping an historic barn into a community center, opening the first park, teaming with a half-dozen builders on fresh designs and providing land for Northwood Assembly to build a church, school and sports fields.
“Planned communities incorporate not just homes and residential neighborhoods, but also amenities, businesses and often schools to neighborhoods where residents can enjoy various aspects of life every day,” she says.
In Mount Pleasant, Carolina Park dates to the early 2000s, but it effectively “got off the ground” in 2011-12, says Brian Keels, Asset Manager and Marketing Director for the 1,700-acre master planned community.
Carolina Park calls on nine top-notch homebuilders who are national, regional and local, Keels says. “By having multiple builders offering a range of designs and home styles, we're able to create streetscapes that are far more interesting and attractive,” he points out.
The community, located off U.S. Highway 17 North, takes in Roper Mount Pleasant Hospital and Wando High School. The new Carolina Park Elementary School expects to open for the 2017 school year. Developers also donated land to Charleston County for a 40,000 square foot library, and to Mount Pleasant for a 54-acre active park, Keels says. A new fire station hugs the entrance to Carolina Park Boulevard. Churches, too, have risen in the neighborhood.
Eventually, the community will showcase 1,500 homes and another 500 mulitfamily properties. The Village includes single-family residences - available from multiple builders who each offer a wide variety of floor plans and elevations - as well as townhomes. The Residents Club has a large community swimming pool, outdoor pavilion, playground and tennis courts. The Riverside neighborhood, which will eventually include a 20-acre lake and direct Wando River access, offers custom designed and crafted homes from 8 acclaimed builders.
The MPC benefits from developing “comprehensive planning up front” including businesses, residential and schools. “Everything was designed with a long-term perspective. Neighborhoods are thoughtfully laid out, amenities are carefully considered, and streets are designed to manage the traffic now and down the road as we grow,” he says.
At the same time, developers were able to maintain 50 percent of the property as green space, marsh, wetlands and other passive, non-construction uses. Another strategy involved installing amenities such as zero-entry pools before but a few homes went up in the neighborhoods.
“It was a bit of a risk, but we liked the feel of Mount Pleasant and were confident Carolina Park would become an extraordinary community," Keels says.
The Charleston area’s gained national attention with its master-planned communities, notably Cane Bay earning a top 10 ranking from John Burns Consulting in the number of homes built last year. Cane Bay a decade ago set aside land for Berkeley County schools, which are now Cane Bay High, Middle and Elementary. “You can walk there or ride your bike,” says Ben Gramling, developer of the master-planned community off Highway 176 in Summerville.
The community deals with close to a dozen builders, lined up a Publix supermarket, boasts five restaurants and landed numerous other businesses, incuding a dentist’s office.Cane Bay’s latest expansion revolves around a series of lakes, and will include a 55-plus neighborhood from home builder K. Hovnanian.
“We are trying to have all price points (and) add different amenities,” Gramling says.
Note: This original content of this article was written by Jim Parker and appeared in the Charleston Post & Courier