The Post and Courier

Too many New England winters maybe played a role, but Cheryl and John Hamilton believe they’ve found the pluperfect place to live: Daniel Island.

“We feel on vacation,” says Cheryl Hamilton, who with her husband moved into their new house in Daniel Island Park about 100 days ago. “We can’t believe our good fortune.”

The Hamiltons, who retired to the neotraditional community in Berkeley County and the city of Charleston, are not alone.

The erstwhile downtown Boston residents are among a steady trickle of people pulling up stakes and moving to Daniel Island, either for their senior years, a place to raise a family or as a starter village for young married couples.

The planned town, launched 16 years ago, counts its population at 8,500 as of January. Eventually, the island is expected to have 15,000 residents.

According to the Daniel Island Co., a majority of the community’s 2,715 households live in single family homes. The breakdown is 1,525 houses or 56 percent; 960 condo units, or 35 percent and 230 townhomes, or less than 10 percent.

Rick Vale, broker-in-charge of Daniel Island Real Estate, is seeing signs of a housing market pick-up. While the island fared fairly well during the real estate downturn, it didn’t get through unaffected.

“There’s 163 homes sold so far this year. That’s a slight increase over last year,” he says. More significantly, he notes, is that 67 houses are now on the market. “It’s about a five month supply of homes available. Six months is a sign of healthy inventory.”

Pricewise, the island is showing indications of a fit market. Homes have sold in the high $300,000s, Vale says. At the same time, “We have a house on deep water listed at (more than) $5 million. The diversity of homes is very good.”

A similar picture is emerging in the multifamily field. “We sold 78 condos this year, new ones as well as resale. You can buy condos from the $100,000s to the $400,000s,” he says.

One gradual shift on Daniel Island has been from a predominantely new-home market in its first years to a balance now between just-built homes and sales of existing residences.

From its earliest days, the island has been split into neighborhoods. Each enclave is named a “park” and contains a park within it. Among the first places to spring up were Etiwan Park, Barfield Park, Cochran Park and Codner’s Ferry Park. More recent additions are Daniel Island Park north of I-526 and Pierce Park and Smythe Park on the south end.

As residential growth took place, the island expanded its commercial base of shops, eateries and offices along Seven Farms and Daniel Island drives, added schools such as Daniel Island Elementary and Middle and Bishop England High; established venues such as Blackbaud soccer stadium and Family Circle Cup Tennis Center; and enticed major employers including BenefitFocus and Blackbaud.

Yet the expansion hasn’t had a major impact on the 4,000-acre town’s down-home character.

“We like the community feeling,” says Jan Masters, who with husband Gary Masters are moving to the Smythe Park neighborhood after 27 years in California.

“We’ve lived in San Diego, Palo Alto and Rancho Mirage” — in the desert near Palm Springs. “We were ready to leave,” she says.

The couple’s son and daughter-in-law lived in Summerville when he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base. That got the Masters’ interested in moving to Daniel Island to retire. They had both worked for a major medical company for many years.

Jan Masters says she plans to be active in the island community. “There are so many opportunities for volunteer work, many different ways to meet people.”

Dan Pape, Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate, believes Daniel Island’s residential outlook should stay steady since it wasn’t hit that hard during the economic slide.

“I think it’s continuing to pick up there. They never stopped building,” he says.

There are plenty of new home sales and resales, “especially under $500,000,” Pape says. “The more expensive homes, it’s supply and demand. They are not going as fast.”

Still, even the seven-figure properties are seeing interest. Pape says he is listing a house at 91 Iron Bottom Lane in the plush Daniel Island Park neighborhood.

“We had an offer on it, after six weeks of activity,” he says. And the list price of the home? “$1.5 million.”

To reach Daniel Island from downtown Charleston, head west on Interstate 26 and take I-526 toward Mount Pleasant. Proceed eight miles and exit at Daniel Island. An alternate route is to cross the Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant and staying left onto U.S. Highway 17 to the I-526 onramp. Get on I-526 and disembark at Daniel Island.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or