MeadWestvaco's massive Nexton development in Summerville has been dominated by news about commercial construction. Now it's time for the first phase of residential development in the 4,500-acre master-planned site at Interstate 26 and Highway 17A.

MWV Community Development and Land Management Group and The Beach Co. of Charleston announced they have broken ground on the 320-unit Parks at Nexton apartment complex.

The joint venture between the two companies will offer what is described as an upscale rental community with amenities like gourmet kitchens, high ceilings, fitness area, clubhouse, business center, saltwater pool and automobile garages.

Parks at Nexton also is touting its technological amenities, especially the "gigabit" Internet speed to be offered to residents and businesses within the entire Nexton footprint through Moncks Corner-based Home Telecom. The one gigabit-per-second service is said to be about 100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed broadband connection.

Nexton, a mixed-used development that packaging giant MeadWestvaco has been planning for years, has been largely about commercial real estate since breaking ground on a 100,000-square-foot office building last year that will house Summerville-based MWV Community Development. Construction is also underway on a 75,000-square-foot building to house the S.C. Research Authority, officials said.

Other developments include a four-story Courtyard by Marriott hotel that's expected to open sometime this year, officials have said.

Nexton is approved for more than 13,000 homes.

On loan

The S.C. Community Loan Fund, formerly known as the Lowcountry Housing Trust, recently received a $750,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, officials said.

Proceeds will be used in the group's revolving loan fund to provide financing to small businesses in rural coastal S.C. The emphasis is on communities that fall within the USDA's "StrikeForce" poverty-fighting initiative. Last year, the department expanded that program to 10 states, including South Carolina.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or