The crop of new real estate offices opening in downtown Charleston is largely tasked with courting buyers interested in homes on the peninsula and the surrounding areas.

That's not the plan for Kiawah Island Real Estate.

The real estate arm for the gated resort community is planning to open an outpost at 12 Queen St. later this month. Its sole responsibilty will be to market homes that are for sale on the barrier island, which is more than 25 miles away. The new office will be the fourth for the firm.

"With the improving market and millions of people visiting Charleston each year, it's a good time to open a branch office," said Chris Drury, broker-in-charge.

Staffers will use digital technology like virtual tours of the homes on the island, but the goal is to have people "come and see it firsthand and tour the island," Drury said.

"I believe that people come and go to Charleston and are not introduced to the possibility of Kiawah, and that's what we want them to do," he added. "We want them to help them discover us."

In terms of 2014 sales, Kiawah Island Real Estate reported $74.6 million in total volume for the first quarter, up 12 percent from the same period last year.

Rising rental activity

Another apartment project is on the horizon for North Charleston's Park Circle neighborhood. Charleston-based developer The Beach Co. is planning to start construction this year on a 217-unit apartment community at the former Garco industrial property.

The development, called Factory at Garco, will consist of eight buildings on 8.4 acres, said company spokeswoman Karen Bacot.

This adds to the developments for Garco Park, a 40-acre mixed-use development just north of the trendy Olde Village commercial strip on East Montague Avenue.

The Beach Co. also has announced plans for retail space on the 23 acres of the property the company purchased during a bankruptcy auction in 2003.

Construction of the Factory at Garco will likely start around September, Bacot added. The planned amenities include a saltwater pool, outdoor kitchen area, community fire pit, private pool deck cabanas, bocci ball court and fenced dog park. The other large multifamily development in Park Circle is Atlanta-based developer Jamestown Properties' 268-unit The Flats of Mixson.

The Beach Co. has been involved in other high-profile apartment projects in recent years. One was The Boulevard, a residential and commercial development on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant that the company recently sold for $66.5 million.

The Beach Co. also is teaming up with MWV Community Development and Land Management Group to build the 320-unit Parks at Nexton apartment complex in Summerville.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550.