As the Lowcountry’s population grows year after year and single-family dwellings become sparser in areas such as Mount Pleasant and James Island, developers and builders are fulfilling a need for multi-family residences. It satisfies both a consumer and investor need for more than a few reasons.

According to a 2016 “Business Insider” article, multi-family dwellings are the future and will continue to be so. A couple of reasons are:

• 75 million baby boomers are retiring

• Many apartment complexes may be converted into retirement communities in the future

Add in the affordability issue that plagues some communities in the Lowcountry and condos, townhomes and attached dwellings are a viable alternative. In the second quarter of 2019, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that the average per unit square footage of multifamily housing starts at 1,103 and the median was 1,055 square feet. “The current moving-average of median size is three percent higher than the post-recession low, while the trailing average is near a post-recession low,” their study suggested.

In the Lowcountry, multifamily construction is on the rise and the price range varies from modest to mega, depending upon where it is.

Downtown

The Gadsden at 5 Gadsdenboro Street is a prime example of multifamily living in an area that is close to parks, restaurants, cultural venues and shopping. East West Partners was the developer of the 76-unit building that was built in 2017. Their other projects include The Tides in Mount Pleasant, One Vendue Range on Waterfront Park downtown and The Waterfront, a luxury multifamily community currently under construction on Daniel Island.

“Homes at The Gadsden start in the low $600,000 for a top level one bedroom home, the mid $700,000s for two bedroom residences and just over $1.2 million for a three bedroom home,” said Elizabeth Madigan, Sales Associate of The Gadsden. “Our community of buyers is an eclectic blend of full-time and second home residents, professionals to retirees. All seek easy walking access to everything that is downtown Charleston, but prefer a new home to a historical renovated property.”

Madigan said they have seen buyers wanting more open living spaces, high ceilings, lots of windows and modern finishes. “Our team worked closely with Courtney Bishop Design and her vision was ‘The New South’ blends Old World elements with modern polish,” she explained. “It’s timeless yet progressive and the design carries throughout our common areas into each residence.”

The community has a roof top club, pool and large terraces with two outdoor kitchens. There’s also a fitness center, a car share program and a pet washing station.

“The Gadsden is situated on Gadsdenboro Park, a block from the harbor,” Madigan said. “We are about a half-mile to Marion Square and to so many things that make Charleston so special. It’s perfect for buyers who prefer a condo living, a lock and leave lifestyle. Our multiple gathering spaces throughout the building foster a feeling of community.”

As of September 2019, The Gadsden was 75 percent sold out.

Upper and Lower Mount Pleasant

New multifamily construction East of the Cooper is underway. Mungo Homes is constructing three and four-bedroom townhomes with garages in the Park West neighborhood in North Mount Pleasant. The community comprises 21 homes.

“There are four different floorplans ranging from 2,200 to 2,400 square feet,” said Jonathan Green, Community Sales Manager of Carolina New Homes at Warrington. “It’s ideal for someone looking for maintenance-free living. Residents have access to all Park West amenities including neighborhood pool, tennis courts, playground and walking and jogging trails.”

Greene said the community’s first homes should be ready to close in November and prices range from the high $300,000s to the mid $400,000s.

In Lower Mount Pleasant, the much-anticipated community of Sea Island Hamlet by New Leaf Builders is currently under construction. According to Ali Bring, Broker Associate of Carolina One New Homes, the first homes will be ready at the end of October or the first part of November 2019.

“These quick move-ins are from $527,000 to $537,000,” she said. “Two, three and four-bedroom plans are available and include a drive-under double car garage and an elevator option. There’s a heated and cooled square footage on the ground floor which is ideal for storage. The total climatized square footage of all homes is 1,956. There will be 24 homes and three are already under contract.”

Bring said that most buyers are looking to “right size” and many are opting to let go of the burdens and costs associated with maintaining a large single family home. The trend toward modern, clean and light is a trend that’s here to stay.

“Sea Island Hamlet fits in beautifully with Mount Pleasant’s urban corridor for Chuck Dawley as it ties into Coleman Blvd. and Ben Sawyer,” Bring said. “Shopping and dining are within walking distance. Sullivan’s Island is nearby, as well as groceries, coffee shops, gourmet food emporiums and more – variety and convenience.”

The homes have hardwoods and tile throughout with Bosch appliances and plenty of outdoor spaces – personal decks located off the kitchen, living and master bedroom. Prices begin at $499,900.

Hanahan and Goose Creek

The Wrenn Group is constructing The McKelvey at Bowen, a 36-unit luxury condominium development in Hanahan. According to Suzanne Davis of Carolina One the development is 50 percent complete with 20 units available for sale.

“The completion is projected to be finished in February 2020,” said Davis. “The condos will range in size from 1,008 to 1,286 square feet and they are two and three-bedroom homes. The builder/developer wanted the homes to have a classic, historic downtown Charleston appeal.”

Located within the residential Bowen Village, The McKelvey is set up as a walkable community with access to the “The Waterfront Village,” and its amenities such as a café, market district and a Founder’s Pool. Bowen’s Corner Elementary opened in 2018. A “walkable, urban waterfront resort,” it has a very attractive price point – from $209,900 to $251,900. Davis said the demand is high for this type of home, especially with it being close to the airport, Boeing, Blackbaud and Volvo.

“We have dog parks, pet washing stations, large green spaces and the river – Goose Creek reservoir – to offer residents plenty of water activities such as boating, kayaking and canoeing,” said Davis.

Within walking distance to the new City of Hanahan trail system and with plans to construct a boat landing and community docks, The McKelvey offers a variety of common space amenities.

In Goose Creek, Great Southern Builders began new construction in Lake View Commons. The three-bedroom townhomes have two-and-a-half baths, one-car garages and 1,476 square feet.

“There is a shortage of properties in the sub $200,000 market,” said Mark Godwin of Carolina One New Homes. “Lakeview Commons satisfies that with homes priced from $181,025 to $185,500. Most of our buyers are 25 to 44-year-olds. There are many military buyers with the property being close to the Naval Weapons Station.”

Located on Redbank Road near the Goose Creek High School, the community is “worry free,” according to Godwin.

“There’s perpetual lawn care, exterior maintenance and insurance plus a swimming pool and play park,” Godwin said. “The kitchens have maple cabinets with granite countertops, a Ring camera doorbell and master suites with two large walk-in closets.”

Godwin said there is a demand for this type of dwelling. “The price point, location and especially with one-car garages, are what buyers like. Sales have been brisk and we’ve nearly surpassed our number of sales from last year at this time. Of the new 74 units being constructed, 38 units have been sold this year.”

Construction is slated to be completed in approximately nine months according to Godwin. With 100 percent loan programs available and the seller paying up to $3,000 of buyer closing costs, the townhome are especially beneficial to first-time homebuyers.

West Ashley and James Island

Ashton Woods, a builder and developer who was recognized as “Builder of the Year” by Building and Developer Magazine in 2017, has developments throughout the country. Two are in West Ashley and James Island.

Marsh View Commons in James Island is convenient to Johns Island and Kiawah Island.

“With the availability of land becoming more expensive, builders have to resort to differing housing styles in order to keep prices manageable and affordable to buyers,” said Jason Schwartz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Ashton Woods. “Townhomes allow us to provide the same features one would find in a single-family home at a comfortable price point in a great location.”

Marsh View Commons is a mile north of the Stono River so waterway and marsh views are common. “These townhomes are priced from the mid $200,000 to the mid $300,000 and range in size from, 1,909 to 2,246 square feet,” Schwartz said.

The community has a swimming pool and cabana.

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The Sable on the Marsh located on James Island is 2.5 miles from Folly Beach and homes range from the mid $300,000s to the mid-$400,000s. They range in size from 1,589 to 1,609 square feet.

“Residents at The Sable have access to a pond and a large community space with fire pit,” Schwartz said. “Plus the views of the marsh are beautiful and the elevated homes have spacious garages.”

Townhomes in both communities have a craftsman’s style façade with drive-under garages – some of which hold up to four cars. Some of the homes have master and guest bedrooms on the main level, study/den or flex rooms and “special touches.” Buyers involved early on in the building process have the ability to make certain selections themselves. The Studio by Ashton Woods is located on Daniel Island and buyers can preview all design selections.

“The beauty of townhome living is that it appeals to single professionals, young couples or families, downsizing empty-nesters and even those who want a second home,” said Schwartz. “All of our townhome neighborhoods lend themselves to someone’s personal design aesthetics and all feature outdoor living spaces.”

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BY THE NUMBERS:

Condo/Townhome New Listings, as of August 2019 – Year-to-date comparisons

In Charleston County overall, new listings are up from 2,242 to 2,367. (+ 5.6 percent)

Dorchester County: up from 332 to 336. (+ 1.2 percent)

Berkeley County: up from 509 to 581. (+ 14.1 percent)

Area                                  2018                      2019

Upper Mt Pleasant                346                       335

Lower Mt. Pleasant               338                       299

James Island                       184                       221

Johns Island                         65                         71

West Ashley                        378                       453

Greater North Charleston     279                        320

Johns Island                        65                          71

Kiawah                               41                          45

Folly Beach                        60                           88