By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

It was the late 1990s, and the city of North Charleston was looking to put its stamp on the emerging Dorchester Road corridor south of Summerville.

The municipality rolled the dice, backing the 1,600-acre Wescott residential development while bankrolling 27-hole The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation golf course.

Major home builders joined in right away, laying out neighborhoods such as The Preserve, Markley Grove, The Gates, Willowbrook, Pebble Creek, Wescott Glenn, The Orchards, Waterford, Planters View and The Courtyards at Wescott Plantation. D.R. Horton would open The Farm at Wescott on the eastern edge of the community.

The widespread community would built outward from traffic circles along Wescott Plantation Boulevard as directional arrows marked the way to new neighborhoods, including townhome villages such as The Abbey and apartments such as the Reserve. In time, Wescott Plantation would reach 900 homes and offer access from Dorchester Road, Old Fort Drive and the newer Patriot Boulevard.

Yet for years, the build-out stayed within Wescott with little growth on neighboring parcels. Further, the golf course faced early financial troubles.

But that appears to all be in the past. The critically lauded municipal golf course, which showcases a 6,000-square-foot “antebellum clubhouse,” gets lots of play. At the same time, retailers and builders filled in adjacent lands. They’ve included a Walmart discount superstore, Lowe’s home improvement center and just breaking ground, Harris Teeter grocery store. Summerville Ford a few years ago relocated to a sizable space not far from Wescott. And the city of North Charleston is supporting a new major league-style athletic park with baseball and softball fields and the goal of hosting major tournaments.

With all the surrounding growth, Wescott has kept active in terms of home starts and sales. The neighborhood as planned will have 1,500 residences when completed. Resales are ongoing; there are 91 homes on the market, according to Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Neighborhood buyers include Lisa Thompson, a Realtor with AgentOwned Realty who bought a patio home in The Courtyards six-and-a-half years ago.

She clinched sales on a dozen homes in Wescott last year. Her business tag is, “I live here, I sell here, I sell Wescott.”

Thompson is a player in the community, serving on the homeowner’s association board. She was instantly attracted to the low maintenance of the patio homes. Harbor Homes, which now goes by its parent name Mungo, built The Courtyards.

“I like the variety and vision for Wescott,” she says. Unfortunately, the national housing decline and overall economic downturn hit just as the community was picking up speed. “Everything just stalled,” she says.

But now it’s back on track as projects such as the Harris Teeter and new apartments close by move forward, Thompson says.

Similarly, the new homes market is building steam again at Wescott Plantation.

One of the ongoing projects is Wescott Commons, a moderately sized neighborhood from North Carolina builder True Homes. Priced at $149,400 to $239,725, residences are located along Ballentine Drive in the northeast corner of the community.

Wescott Commons plans to showcase its “Alley Entry Singles” series on 26 home sites, True Homes says on its website.

According to the builder, the houses combine the “same historic look” of Charleston’s Battery style row houses with Craftsman exteriors to give the section a neo-traditional touch.

The neighborhood is well situated, with downtown Charleston, area beaches and Charleston International Airport “all just minutes away,” True Homes says.

Wescott Commons is close to shopping, dining and medical facilities and is not far from interstates 26 and 526. The company also touts Wescott’s golf club. “Flanked by centuries of old live oaks surrounding the grounds,” the public 27-hole golf course is on site of an early Charleston area plantation, it says.

“If you’re looking for a close, safe community feel with friendly neighbors,” True Homes notes, “then you’ve found your place.”

To reach Wescott Plantation from downtown Charleston, head west on I-26. Take exit 209B for Ashley Phosphate Road. Stay left onto Ashley Phosphate and proceed to Dorchester Road. Steer right onto Dorchester. Go about three miles to a traffic light and make a right on Wescott Plantation Boulevard. Ahead is Wescott Plantation.

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

WESCOTT PLANTATION AT A GLANCE:

Location: North Charleston

Number of homes: 874

Square footage: 1,071-3,452

Look & feel: The master planned community spearheaded by the city of North Charleston has grown up in nearly 15 years. Neighborhoods raised by a host of national, state and local builders branch off from traffic circles on Wescott Plantation Boulevard and hug the newer Patriots Boulevard. Many move-up families and first-time homebuyers live in the sprawling village, dotted with small ponds and green space. The 27-hole Club at Wescott golf course is popular. Children of all ages play on lush lawns, ride their bikes to parks or slide into swimming pools — all in the neighborhood. Parents push infants in strollers on the many sidewalks. Fiber-cement and brick homes predominate, many of them two story. Wescott has attracted businesses nearby such as Walmart, Lowe’s and Summerville Ford. A new athletic center and park is underway to the south.

Homes on market: 91

List prices: $80,000-$290,000

Schools: Fort Dorchester Elementary; Fort Dorchester, Rollings middle; Fort Dorchester High

Fun facts: Wescott Plantation is in the city of North Charleston and Dorchester County but often gets listed as Summerville; Builder D.R. Horton maintained the theme of its The Farm at Wescott neighborhood by opening a sales center that resembles a barn and erecting a towering directional marker to look like a silo.