The rectangular body of water forms a natural expanse to showcase striking townhomes and Lowcountry houses. Colorful patio homes are a stroll away.

Residents can paddle kayaks across the 25-acre lake. They can meet and greet on the community dock. They can fish there; it's stocked.

Not only that, homeowners can walk, jog or pedal on sidewalks as well as trails that wind through buffering groves of trees.

Such serene visions provide a glimpse of Whitney Lake now and moving forward. Parks, clubhouse, swimming pool and boathouse have all been planned for the neighborhood at some point.

Two-story homes and double-decker townhomes costfrom the $130,000s to the $240,000s in the planned community off Murraywood Road on Johns Island.

The moderating prices come as the greater Charleston real estate market shows signs of a gradual rebound. They're bargains compared with the $347,000 median home price on Johns Island, according to the latest Multiple Listing Service figures.

Conceived in the mid-2000s, Whitney Lake has gone through ups and downs. Yet builders and real estate agents keep coming back: In 2010, Blanchard & Calhoun Charleston started developing 1,700-1,850 square foot townhomes on the south side of the lake touting hardwood floors, high-end fixtures and options such as stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and fireplaces.

“Centrally positioned between downtown Charleston and the beaches of Kiawah and Seabrook islands, Whitney Lake offers convenience, quality, and privacy,” the real estate company says on its website.

Just this year, Ryland Homes began framing houses from 1,500- to 2,200-square-feet and priced in the $180,000s to $250,000s with such features as master bedrooms on the first floor and detached garages.

On its online site, Ryland describes Whitney Lake as “a quaint Charleston community with charming southern style designs.” The central lake, meanwhile, “provides a quiet serene environment and ample recreation opportunities,” according to the builder.

Smaller 1,300-1,500-square-foot houses, built as early as 2006 and painted Charleston pinks, blues and greens, usher visitors into the neighborhood from entry road Sweetleaf Lane.

Whitney Lake is one of a dozen or more neighborhoods to hatch in the past decade on Johns Island, once a farming center that's been discovered by young professionals wanting space outside the city and seniors who tire of the 30-minute drive to Charleston from Kiawah and Seabrook islands.

Residents keep up to date via Facebook. For instance, a community yard sale is scheduled for today at the corner of Sweetleaf and Fetterbush lanes.

“The focus at Whitney Lake is on bringing together carefully designed aspects of the neighborhood,” says Heather Lord, of Keller Williams Realty. “For example, in considering the 'look' of each street, neighboring buildings are taken into account and paired with unique landscaping plans,” she says on her website.

“While all streets are tree-lined, none are the same. Each street features varying combinations of green grass, flowers and trees. Some streets will offer parallel, off street parking. Others highlight sweeps of wildflowers by sparing the thruway of curbs. A network of alleys runs behind the homes, leading to thoughtfully placed garages,” Lord says.

To get to Whitney Lake from downtown Charleston, head west over the Ashley River bridge to Savannah Highway. Veer left onto Folly Road and cross the Wappoo Cut Bridge. Turn right on Maybank Highway. Continue over the Stono River bridge to Johns Island. Follow Maybank to River Road and turn right. Go about one mile and make a left onto Murraywood Road. Take the first left onto Sweetleaf Lane at the signs for Whitney Lake.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

WHITNEY LAKE AT A GLANCE:

Location: Johns Island

Number of homes: 875 (complete build-out)

Square footage: 1,383-2,121

Look and feel: The cozy neighborhood has a semi-rural ambiance from its location on Johns Island, once home to numerous tomato farms, and surrounding woods. Properties are split among bungalows along the entryway, townhomes around the lake and larger single-family residences from new builder Ryland Homes. The community is close to island thoroughfare Maybank Highway and 15 minutes from Charleston, making it a reasonably short commute for young professionals. Homeowners include couples, retirees and a few families. Don't be surprised to see residents fishing on the lake, walking along the miles of trails or riding bikes through the neighborhood.

Homes on market: 20

List prices: $129,000-$241,500

Schools: Angel Oak Elementary, Haut Gap Middle, St. John's High (public); Charleston Collegiate (private).

Fun facts: The 25-acre spring-fed lake has been fully stocked with fish, according to Blanchard and Calhoun real estate; The neighborhood's original name was The Gardens at Whitney Lake but “the gardens” title isn't used as much now.