By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
Carolina bays are prehistoric Atlantic Seaboard depressions that are most eye-catching a hundred or more miles up the coast.
They support abundant wildlife and plant growth while exhibiting the capacity to stand the test of time.
In its own way, the residential Carolina Bay in metro Charleston is emerging with similar traits — blending neighborhoods among pristine oaks and wetlands while summoning the strength to survive a national housing drop-off.
Pulte Group is the prime builder in the 1,000-acre Carolina Bay master-planned community, in line for 1,900 houses between Savannah Highway and Glenn McConnell Parkway not far north of Bees Ferry Road.
The Michigan-based company is marketing homes under its name as well as that of Centex, the Texas builder that launched the community in the mid 2000s and merged with Pulte a few years back.
Still years from completion, Carolina Bay in the past few months opened a second attractions center anchored by a swimming pool and showcasing a children’s playground and park.
Carolina Bay canvasses eight neighborhoods, all but two reachable from U.S. Highway 17 South. They are Essex, Rice Field, Creekside, Cypress and Salt Grass single-family subdivisions; and Bridgewater, Tidewater and Essex townhomes, according to Marshland Communities, which oversees the Carolin Bay homeowners’ association. Pulte is selling new homes in Creekside, Cypress and Essex, and Centex is marketing houses in Rice Field and Bridgewater.
Essex and Essex Townhomes can only be reached now from S.C. Highway 61 bypass, but based on the master plan would be tied in at some point via a north-south access road through the community.
Interest has spread about the village, noted for green space, sidewalks, traditional single-family homes, conveniently placed townhomes and carefully situated amenities areas.
The allure is not only from greater Charleston but online from the Northeast and Midwest among other places.
“I moved here from Chicago,” says Marvin Nochowitz, who in fall 2007 retired with his wife Lana Nochowitz to Salt Grass at Carolina Bay.
The couple discovered Carolina Bay on the Internet and were up to speed about the neighborhood before deciding to relocate here six years ago. “I retired in June (of that year), my wife (a nurse) in August and we moved in September,” he says.
The Nochowitzes believe they made a good choice. “We are enjoying it. The people are very friendly,” he says, noting that many homeowners arrived from out of state and were eager to make friends with their new neighbors.
“The location is fantastic, close to the peninsula,” he says. Salt Grass, in particular, is dotted with still ponds and ancient oak trees. “We are thrilled with it,” Nochowitz says. “Everywhere you look there are old forests. It’s pretty attractive.”
The couple is generally pleased with the community’s growth including the recent opening of another amenities center with a second pool.
At the same time, they are happy with the proximity to Charleston’s restaurants and sights.
“We like it just the way it is,” he says.
To get to Carolina Bay from downtown Charleston, head west across the Ashley River Bridge to Savannah Highway. Continue straight on the highway, passing the Interstate 526 interchange. After about eight miles, turn right on Carolina Bay Drive. Ahead is Carolina Bay. To reach Essex, steer right after the Ashley River Bridge onto S.C. Highway 61. Follow the highway across Sam Rittenberg Boulevard where it becomes Ashley River Road. Veer left onto Glenn McConnell Parkway. After a mile or so, turn left on Essex Farms Drive into Essex Townhomes and Essex.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAROLINA BAY AT A GLANCE:
Location: Charleston (West Ashley)
Number of homes: 1,900 (when built out)
Square footage: 1,443-3,191
Look & feel: Families, empty nesters, professionals and seniors reside in the diverse, varied community. Residents enjoy the neighborhood attractions, made more substantial with the recent opening of a second pool, park and amenities center. Neighbors get together in groups such as book clubs. Buyers can choose from Charleston single style homes, traditional houses and townhomes spread among eight neighborhoods off Savannah Highway and Highway 61. Enclaves differ: at least one offers detached garages, for instance. The 1,000-acre spread also includes miles of walking and biking trails.
Homes on market: 38
List prices: $161,888-$428,900
Schools: Oakland Elementary, St. Andrews Middle, West Ashley High
Fun facts: Carolina Bay gets its name from the shallow, miles-wide elliptical holes found along the Atlantic coast but concentrated in South Carolina and North Carolina; some street signs echo southern history such as the intersection of Manassas Drive and Shiloh Lane.
A row of upscale houses stands out across a pond in Creekside, a newer section of Carolina Bay from Pulte Group (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Tidewater is one of three townhome villages in Carolina Bay (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Sporting a swimming pool, the community’s original amenities centeris in the Cypress enclave (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Ornate flower pots, manicured yards, fence rows and arrow-straight palmettos highlight the traditional-style homes along this sidewalk in Creekside (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
This two-story home with double porch, peaked roof and cedar-shake-style siding is typical of the community’s upscale layouts (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Built-in appliances including refrigerator, stove and microwave showcase this Creekside model from Pulte (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
An extra large master bedroom highlights this floor plan in Creekside (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A brick marker highlights the Cypress entrance sign, which borders water (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
The wide front porch has plenty of space for furniture. Porches are commonplace in Carolina Bay (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Pulte is framing a slew ofhouses in various states of construction at Creekside (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Charleston single style houses stand out on this Salt Grass street (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
A sign that marks the area as open for bikng is at Carolina Bay Park, a new attraction in the master-planned community (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Ponds and woodsare common sights in Salt Grass at Carolina Bay (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
The Tidewater townhome village is near the Savannah Highway entrance to Carolina Bay (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×
Carolina Bay has two builders, Pulte Group and Centex — which Pulte acquired a few years ago (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).×