Lennie Woods likes to tell the story of a Chicago couple she assisted in her position as James Island real estate agent.

"I get a lot of clients from far away," she explains.

One day, she took a call from the Windy City pair who had quit their jobs, landed in the Charleston area and quickly found positions here. At the time, they were searching for a home.

Woods ushered them to Fort Johnson Road, which meanders close to seven miles between Folly Road and the state Department of Natural Resources facility on Charleston Harbor.

"They were smitten with the trees, the walking trail at DNR," says Woods, a Realtor with Fred Holland Realty's less-than-year-old James Island office. "That's really cool."

If anyone should be up to speed on the Fort Johnson Road corridor, it's Woods. She grew up on James Island, sells real estate on the island and, with her husband, built a home at Fort Johnson Estates. "We just moved in," she says.

The wife and husband buy properties to live in but also to sell, hopefully at a profit, at some point. As an investor, she says the Fort Johnson Road market's "definitely coming back. Prices are not depreciating that much," Woods says.

"It's a wonderful area."

She recalls that Harbor Woods was one of the early neighborhoods on Fort Johnson Road. When she was young, tomato and cabbage farms were cultivated in what's now the Bayview Farms community.

Many of the cleared areas were off the roadway. Indeed, Fort Johnson Road's best-known feature seems to be its expanse of live oaks, which in places creates avenues of near constant shade.

"To me, showing real estate all over Charleston, Fort Johnson (is most associated with) a canopy of oaks," says Alton Brown, agent with Carriage Properties. He's listing a house on Wayfarer Lane in Bayview Farms for $499,000.

Although the Bayview Farms house stands just 16 years old, "the neighborhoods off Fort Johnson (tend to be) older," he says.

According to Charleston Trident Association of Realtors' figures, a few neighborhoods off Fort Johnson Road list homes for sale built as early as the 1960s and even the late 1950s. The houses are in Fort Johnson Estates, Lighthouse Point, Eastwood, Teal Acres, Farmington, Dellwood, Woodhaven and Clearview, which is near the intersection of Fort Johnson and Harbor View roads.

Brown says Fort Johnson runs close to waterways, so it's an access road to creek, sound and harbor front properties.

"There's some really spectacular views out there," he says.

Another advantage of the Fort Johnson Road corridor: "It's close to town, not many stop lights."

From a property value angle, "prices are attractive," Brown says. "What I'm finding more than anything, there's selling (and) less inventory."

Woods, too, believes Fort Johnson Road to be a popular place. "You find wildlife," she says. Residents like the schools, the neighborhoods, the whole community. "You've got everything out here," she says.

To reach the Fort Johnson corridor from downtown Charleston, head west on the James Island connector, curling off at the Harbor View Road exit. Turn right on Harbor View Road and proceed south. The roadway terminates at Fort Johnson Road. Turn left on Fort Johnson, and streets bear off on either side to various neighborhoods. The road ends at the state Marine Resources center on Charleston Harbor. Alternately turn right from Harbor View to Fort Johnson and streets again veer off to communities. Heading south, Fort Johnson Road ends across from Grimball Road at Folly Road .

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


Location: James Island

Number of homes: More than 750

Square footage: 947-4,430

Look & feel: Moss-covered oak avenues highlight the road, which runs between southern Folly Road and Charleston harbor-side Marine Resources center. Etched at openings in the trees are soccer fields, tennis courts, schools and houses. Streets split off Fort Johnson Road to neighborhoods with views of the harbor, Clark Sound and Parrot and Schooner creeks. Many neighborhoods date to the late 1950s and early '60s; not many subdivisions are new but a number homes have been built in the past decade. Residents run the gamut from empty nesters and retirees to young families. Fort Johnson Estates has a community swimming pool and summer swim team. James Island Yacht Cub can be accessed via Fort Johnson Road as can Sunrise Park, a city of Charleston green space. Well-traveled Harbor View Road ends at Fort Johnson Road.

Homes on market: 57

List prices: $100,000-$949,000

Schools: Stiles Point Elementary, James Island Middle, James Island Charter High

Fun facts: The signal shot which opened the bombardment of Fort Sumter and marked the beginning of the Civil War was fired from the east mortar battery at Fort Johnson on April 12, 1861; the majority of the Fort Johnson property was transferred to the S.C. Wildlife and Marine Resources Department in 1970.