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Daniel Island: Local and out-of-state buyers flock to the island’s laid-back lifestyle

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In February 2020, the average home price on Daniel Island $900,650. The latest stats by Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR) has that average sales price up 27.3 percent at $1.146,935. Closed sales on the luxury community have soared to over 40 percent.

Heron Condo View

A view from one of the top floor condos, The Heron, at The Waterfront. The vintage yacht is a 1963 Burger Motor Yacht that was designed and upfitted by Courtney Bishop for East West Partners' "floating office." Photo/JA Surette

As with most communities in the Charleston region, it’s certainly not the lack of buyers that’s stalling home sales. It’s inventory. There is a 21.9 percent drop in new listings, and inventory has dropped from 69 homes for sale in January 2020 to 19 in January 2021. According to Daniel Island Real Estate’s website, 98.1 percent of homes here sell for their original asking price, and the average per square foot price is $253.

Daniel Island is part of the City of Charleston, in Berkeley County. The two portions of Daniel Island—the northern side of the island and the southern side—are divided by I-526 and I-26. The 4,000 plus master-planned community has been featured in several upscale dwelling publications, and with new construction, their reputation as an idyllic island-like place to live remains solid, and the desire to live here, even stronger.

New and under construction

Miller Harper

Harper

“Since first launching sales at The Waterfront in mid-2020, sales have increased as interest from both local and out-of-state buyers has risen dramatically,” said Miller Harper, Managing Partner of East West Partners (EWP). “We have 25 residences under contract. We don’t have any completed residences yet, and we plan to start closing residences next month.”

Daniel Island’s inventory issue is being addressed with EWP’s new community, The Waterfront. Miller said that seven buyers have purchased residences sight unseen and those buyers were from New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Washington, D.C. There is about a 50-50 split between South Carolina and out-of-state buyers, he said.

“We had to pivot a little bit due to the pandemic as far as our sales process and release schedule were concerned,” Harper said. “However, construction has remained steady with a few hiccups as far as material delays and losing some trades to COVID outbreaks. For the most part, we feel good about the schedule considering the circumstances.”

Now’s the time to get in if you want a seat at The Waterfront’s table, so to speak. “Pre-construction pricing is coming to an end,” said Harper. “We plan to increase pricing for our grand opening in March.”

Currently, prices for the new luxury townhomes and condos range from the mid $500,000s to $1.9 million.

“Residents are seeking the laid-back waterfront lifestyle that Daniel Island offers, including the island’s 23 miles of rivers and creeks, which provide the ideal setting for water activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, sailing and boating,” Harper added.

A sneak peek

Aerial The Waterfront

A conceptual rendering of The Waterfront, Daniel Island's newest community on the Wando River that will have condos, townhomes, parks, community docks and more. The grand opening of a portion of the development is slated for March 2021. Photo/East West Partners.

I had the opportunity to tour The Waterfront’s site on a cloudy afternoon, with EWP’s Sales Executive Sherri O’Malley and Marketing Director Rachel Moore.

Being able to view the underpinnings of what The Waterfront at Daniel Island will be once complete was a treat, and it allowed me to get an up close and personal view of its construction. The oasis-like property will undoubtedly add another jewel to Daniel Island’s crown.

Donning a hard hat and safety vest, we explored the development which sits at the intersection of River Landing Drive and the Wando River. Construction was in full force since the grand opening is slated for mid to late-March. The site will become a part of Daniel Island’s overall concept of social and active living, with the waterfront living and the Wando River as the community’s backdrop, being one of its central elements.

The tour began in The Dime, (Daniel Island Market and Eatery), the community’s gathering place.

Sherri O'Malley

O'Malley

“The Dime is going to be a true market with grab and go food by the chef,” O’Malley said. “Plus, smoothies, coffee, gelatos. It’s proven to be very popular.”

Currently, it’s also being used, since in its soft opening stage, to house some of the EWP team and to showcase the features and finishes that buyers can choose for their homes. Designers Courtney Bishop and Jenny Keenan had a hand in selecting the homes’ overall feel and design, which leans toward modern, sleek and luxurious. O’Malley pointed out how the community was to be laid out, via a model and a video/artist concept of it.

The Dime

The Daniel Island Market and Eatery (Dime) will be a gathering spot near the Waterfront Park of Daniel Island and is part of The Waterfront. The eatery will be a part of the grand opening in March. Photo/JA Surette.

Interior Dime

Inside, the Dime will offer residents and visitors coffee, drinks, gelatos and sandwiches. Photo/JA Surette.

Behind The Dime is the Kingstide, an upscale restaurant that will be open nightly for dinner and for lunch and dinner on the weekend. It will be the island’s only waterfront restaurant with a rooftop bar. Though my tour included a sneak peek inside, the windows were covered, getting ready for the grand opening reveal. (Think upscale and open with Courtney Bishop’s indelible style of marrying modernity with functionality, and a big dose of casual elegance).

Rachel Moore

Moore

“Indigo Road is managing all the food and beverage offerings between The Dime and The Kingstide,” Moore told me. “Steve Palmer (Founder of Indigo) is concepting everything.”

Kingstide

Daniel Island's first waterfront restaurant, the Kingstide, is a two-level upscale restaurant that is part of The Waterfront development. It will be open to the public as well -- accessible by land or water. The reveal will be part of the grand opening. Pictured here is the upper deck which has unobstructed views of the Wando River. Photo/JA Surette.

“It faces northeast so we get gorgeous sunrises and the heat will be behind us, so you can enjoy the outside area,” O’Malley added, pointing to the restaurant’s large upper deck where river views are the part of the dining experience. “There are two different kitchens, and the windows can be opened up. There’s a bar that runs the length of it, so it’s quite gorgeous. This is really going to change everything for Daniel Island. It’s going to be super popular.”

The park, the docks and the water

“Everything about The Waterfront is about that — the Wando River,” O’Malley said. “Daniel Island has always been about the trails and viewing the river, but you really couldn’t get in the water unless you lived on deepwater, so giving folks an opportunity to engage with the river is special.”

Daniel Island’s existing trails and children’s park will interconnect with The Waterfront, once landscaping and construction is complete. Parents can grab a coffee or gelato at The DIME and watch the kids play in the park

The park and new docks are open to the public. A newly constructed dock that will be for non-motorized activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing school is owned by Daniel Island property owners.

Community dock DI

One of the newly completed community docks at The Waterfront. Open to the public, non-motorized activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking and even a sailing school will be available. Photo/JA Surette.

“We aren’t privatizing this in any way, it’s open to the public, we’re just helping fund the revitalization,” O’Malley explained.

Another dock nearing completion is where the Daniel Island Yacht Club will operate and it’s membership-based O’Malley said. “But, the rest of the slips are for public tie up and people can have lunch or dinner at The Kingstide or go to the Volvo Stadium and see a concert.”

Inclement weather inhibited us from going out on The Waterfront’s “floating office,” which is a vintage yacht tied up on the dock.

“Our floating office is a 1963 Burger Motor Yacht,” said Moore. “We purchased it from the original owners and had it upfitted by Courtney Bishop."

Imagine hopping on board this vintage beauty on a sunny day to skim across the river and get an entirely unique perspective of The Waterfront.

The Waterfront residences

There are also parks under construction within the development. As we made our way through, O’Malley pointed to a large space that will become a linear park. The large green space will incorporate lush landscaping, trees and river views. It is designed to be a “passive space” she said. My mind’s eye went to yoga at sunrise, reading a book in the afternoon or a picnic at sunset.

The Heron is the community’s star, in a sense, as it is the closest to the waterfront. Stepping out on one of balconies, the view was indeed awe-inspiring. The balconies/porches were built wider as opposed to deeper to allow generous seating. The view gets better the higher one goes — the top-floor unit had views of the bridge, the docks and vista water views. There are two floor plans, each offering two bedrooms and two and half baths, with an option for a separate den area. Price points are $1.4 to $1.9 million, with 2,000 to 2,350 square feet.

Heron

The Heron condos range in size from 2,000 to 2,350 square feet and have balconies, with the top units having vista water views. They are priced from $1.4 to $1.9 million. This artist's rendering showcases some of the premium features and finishes that will be inside the homes. Photo/East West Partners.

The Egret condominiums are behind the Heron and range in price from the mid-$500,000s to $1.65 million. One to three-bedroom units have terraces, and buyers can choose from five different floor plans.

“When residents come home from the DIME or the Kingstide, they will enter a beautiful Charleston-inspired courtyard to enter their home,” O’Malley said. “All the parking is underground and most have two parking spaces.”

The Osprey condos range in size from 1,900 to 2,700 square feet and offer two floor plans. We toured one of them, and I noted tons of natural light pouring into the spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows. The one we toured had a sales price of $1.6 million. They begin at $1.2 million and overlook the park and the Wando.

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“It has been a bit of a challenge to tour people during construction,” O’Malley said. “But it gives one the ability to see the quality of our product.” She pointed out the high-performance water barriers that all residences are covered in, then rain sheeting, then hardiplank. Add concrete and steel to the structures and moisture, mildew and rot are reduced to nil.

Our last stop was a collection of 13 townhomes, known as the Sandpiper and Kingfisher. Wrapped in brick and painted white, they are reminiscent of brownstones, lined up regally with stunning private terraces and two-car garages. The three-level homes have floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the waterfront park, landscaped gardens, the pool and the linear park. Others have bridge and water views. These homes have two-car garages with elevators that go all the way up to the third level. Most townhomes are only 23 to 25 feet wide. These are 30 feet wide to let in as much light as possible.

TH Daniel island

The Sandpiper and Kingfisher are a collection of 13 townhomes that are wrapped in brick and painted white. Currently under construction, these homes offer 3,500 square feet, two different floor plans and range in price from $1.425 to $1.8 million. Two terraces and two-car garages complete this premium properties. Photo/JA Surette.

“There are up to 700 feet of rooftop decks in some of these homes,” Moore said. “The A plan has a massive deck and the B plan has a smaller deck, but each has terraces and rooftop decks.”

The pool area was being constructed and according to O’Malley, will be complete for March’s grand opening. Picture a large resort-like space with cabanas. A state-of-the-art fitness center is in the works for the community.

Kingfisher deck

The Kingfisher townhome has a 700 square feet private rooftop deck. Photo/East West Partners.

O’Malley has lived on Daniel Island for nearly two decades, witnessing its growth and revitalization.

“The nice thing about this community is it’s more than just building condos and townhomes,” she said. “This is a true community, a separate little village on Daniel Island. You can be social, get your boat, take it out, go get a workout in and when you’re ready for some peace and quiet, you have the serenity of your own balcony to sit and enjoy the gorgeous Wando River.”

Daniel Island single-family homes

Jackie Dinsmore

Dinsmore

“Daniel Island has always drawn new-comers outside the Charleston area, however, since COVID the uptick seems to be on steroids,” said Jacquie Dinsmore of Carolina One. With the newfound freedom of the ‘work from home, work from anywhere’ concept in corporate America, Daniel Island has become a reality for many. Buyers’ want list now starts with a private office space and a pool.”

Dinsmore had three listings on the island that went under contract quickly. She attributes it to record-low inventory and Northeast and West Coast buyers coming “in droves.”

Beekman House

This five bedroom home on Beekman Street is located on the south side of Daniel Island, a few blocks from town, schools and the pool. It sold rapidly and the list price was $1.425 million. Photo/Carolina One.

“Homes are often on the market for hours instead of days or weeks,” she said. “Buyers are making offers in minutes, sometimes virtually. Strategic pricing is what we do. The hard part is not getting the offers, it’s getting to the closing table, and that hasn’t changed.”

Dinsmore said Daniel Island home pricing are soaring. “I also think the area was somewhat undervalued coming into this market. No one has a crystal ball, but in my opinion with the island’s close proximity to downtown, the beaches, golf, tennis and multigenerational appeal, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

From the beginning

Daniel Island Aerial

Daniel Island is a sea island with a vast array of homes, parks, trails and waterfront activities. The master-planned community has received an Award of Excellence from the Urban Land Institute and consists of over 4,000 acres. Photo/Daniel Island Real Estate.

A large and enduring presence on the island is Daniel Island Real Estate (DIRE). This organization has been at the forefront of new and resale homes on the island for its entire 24-year modern day history. One of the leaders in the high-end real estate market, they branched out to other parts of the metro area in 2020. DIRE represented $25 million in transactions off the island to include Kiawah Island and downtown’s South of Broad listings.

Jeff Leonard

Leonard

“We sold $240 million in real estate in 2020, which is nearly 50 percent over 2019,” said Jeff Leonard, Vice-President and Broker-in-charge of DIRE. “Demand for new and resale homes on Daniel Island has never been higher and sales are only constrained by diminished inventory.”

Leonard said many of their sales were of homes and homesites priced above $1 million, including the sale of the final homesites in the high end neighborhoods of Ralston Grove and Captain’s Island in Daniel Island Park.

“Supply and demand have certainly played a major role in keeping prices at sustained or increased levels,” Leonard said. “One of our agents represented the seller of a deepwater home that sold for $4,250,000.”

Because of the strong demand for upscale properties and premium homesites on the island, DIRE listed and released the developer’s final homesites on Captain’s Island, an exclusive neighborhood of custom homes and sites.

135 King George Street

This four-bedroom custom home located in Daniel Island Park has over 4,000 square feet and is within walking distance to parks and Ralston Creek. Photo/Daniel Island Real Estate.

“They all sold immediately,” said Leonard. “New development on Daniel Island is essentially compete with the exception of one small neighborhood on the northern edge of Daniel Island Park that will likely be offered for sale next year.”

Chances are when those homes go on the market, they will be snatched up, immediately, as well.

As Leonard noted, “Our strong sales in 2020 can be attributed to the heightened demand for the kind of ‘hometown’ experience that Daniel Island offers. From our country club neighborhood and exclusive waterfront homes to a walk-to-school lifestyle on the south end of the island, Daniel Island is a great place to live for every stage of life. Buyers come from our usual feeder markets in the northeast and Atlantic corridor, but also from within our community, from people who have been waiting for a homesite in a particular neighborhood—or whose parents or children have also wanted to live here on Daniel Island and in Charleston.”

***

Daniel Island fast facts

• Robert Daniell, a sea caption, purchased 972 acres of what is now Daniel Island in 1696.

• The Guggenheim Family purchased the 4,000 plus acres of what is now the master planned community in 1947.

• Development began on Daniel Island in 1995.

• Daniel Island received an “Award for Excellence” from the Urban Land Institute in 2007.

• Daniel Island has over 25 miles of trails, 23 miles of rivers and creeks, a private country club, three schools and 50 parks.

• There are over 14,000 residents.

***

The Waterfront -- a snapshot

• Condos and townhomes priced at $500,000 to $1.9 million

• Condos are The Egret, Osprey and Heron (square footage range from 1,025 to 2,700)

• Townhome are The Sandpiper and Kingfisher (square footage is 3,500 with two floor plans)

• Amenities: Waterfront restaurant with rooftop bar, The Kings Tide and the DIME, a grab and go market

• Pool and fitness center

• Community docks

• Access to Daniel Island Yacht Club (with valet boat service)

• Ferry service to downtown Charleston

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