SUMMERTON — After waiting nearly five years since purchasing more than 3,880 acres outside downtown Summerton, the Beach Co. of Charleston believes it will finally begin to break ground on development projects in the area by next spring.
Kevin O'Neill, vice president of development for the company, spoke with Summerton Town Council on May 26 to give an update about the project.
"(Summerton Town Administrator) Bruce (Behrens) suggested it might be a good idea for me to come," O'Neill said. "As he may have told you, we're working diligently on producing the legal agreements necessary to guide the process."
O'Neill said the legal agreements were part of three separate sets of documents the company would rely on to guide the project, which will bring 7,000 new homes to the area during a 15-year period once construction begins.
"The second document that's equally important is the Planned-development District Plan," O'Neill said. "It's not a legal document, but it will likely be helpful to town council and everyone else because it will provide an executive summary of the project as well as pictures of what we're planning to do. This document will also tell the story and history of the land, talk about the concept of the development and the vision for site development."
The third document is an economic impact study. While O'Neill would not talk about specific numbers, he did say that the study showed favorable results for Summerton and Clarendon County at-large.
"We're probably to (within a week of being able to submit this document)," O'Neill said. "One of the things we're working on right now is how to translate it into benefits for the town. From what we've seen, the data indicates that of the benefit they see, 80 percent of the impact to the county is felt or is achieved by the closest and local municipality. Having said that, I really don't want to release (hard) numbers just yet, but I can tell you that the impact to the town, county and state are very significant and very positive."
| Robert Baker / LakeSide |
Bonnie Agnew, store and boat landing manager for Jack's Creek Marina, works in the kitchen at the landing.
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The company purchased the land for $10.3 million in 2005. They named it Cantey Bay in 2007 after Teige Cantey, who immigrated from Barbados to Charleston in the 1600s. In September 2008, the company purchased Jack's Creek Marina, proposing to provide a new waterfront area with new docks, vacation cottages or "hospitality units," and a new restaurant.
Some of those projects are already under way.
"We have the kitchen up and running now," said Bonnie Agnew, store and boat landing manager for Jack's Creek Marina. "They haven't started any big construction yet, but they have repaired the docks and we have an electric license now."
Agnew said the company had also cleaned the marina.
"They came in and cleared up some of the abandoned boats and campers," she said. "I think people finally know that we want the community to come out here and have a nice time."
Agnew said that she believes residents were wary of the Beach Co. initially because they thought the business might make the landing at Jack's Creek private.
"I think people were scared of that," she said. "But now, I think they can see that hasn't happened and people have been coming out here. The restaurant's been steady, and they hope to have some of the (cottages) up by next spring. That's what they're telling me."
O'Neill told council that he would probably come back to speak to them in late August or early September.
Summerton resident Patty Stewart asked O'Neill about the probability of the new development taking away from downtown Summerton.
"I get asked all the time, 'Why do you want to annex into Summerton?'" O'Neill answered. "We like a lot of things we see happening in Summerton. You have great things going on on Main Street and this is a unique shopping area. Together, I think with us being a part of the town of Summerton, I think that we can encourage and promote (the) spending of money in downtown Summerton so that we can be a part of the greater community. I think we can achieve a lot more by annexing in. And I think we can help the town continue to thrive."
|Robert Baker / LakeSide|
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When completed, the development will feature 5,300 single-family homes and 1,600 multi-family homes, according to company partner Scott Parker. Using Charleston as an example when he spoke to Summerton residents a year ago, Parker said houses would be built with their front yards rather than their back yards facing the lake. Streets will run along the lake's edge and parks will be along the shore.
"And, of course, throughout all of this, we are concerned with protecting and enhancing our natural resources," he said, adding that of the 3,880 acres, only about 48 percent of it will be developed space. "Fifty-two percent of that won't be touched by development with buildings, although it might be touched by enhancing it with a park.
"I've made it publicly known that regardless of where plantation is, this will always be Downtown Summerton. We may be talking 10 years out. In the immediate future, I think we have the consensus that government center stays where it is. Whether this particular lot or across the street. We don't have any plans to move town hall to Cantey Bay."
Contact Staff Writer Robert Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 435-8511.