With one stoplight, it feels like the whole world changes. One minute, there’s a Lowe’s and a Costco and a Walmart and a hospital, and at certain times of day some of the most ferocious traffic north Mount Pleasant has to offer. The next, there are fewer homes, even fewer subdivisions, and tall stands of pine trees as far as the eye can see.
That unofficial demarcation line — the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Carolina Park Boulevard — separates two different lifestyles. On one side is the growth and development that’s come to define Mount Pleasant’s northern end. On the other is the slower pace and relative peace of Awendaw and McClellanville, two communities offering different versions of the same thing.
“It’s more of a Lowcountry lifestyle — to have a little more land around your house, and be able to put your boat behind your home if you want to, and spread out a little bit,” said Robert Benware Jr., a Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate. “I think a lot of people want that, and they are looking for that in Mount Pleasant, and they can’t find it without paying a whole lot of money.”
Real estate agents who work in Awendaw and McClellanville say both communities are seeing some overflow from Mount Pleasant’s rampant growth. That’s especially evident in Awendaw, where D.R. Horton, Mungo and Cline Homes all have new subdivisions planned for the area.
The Cline Homes project, called Awendaw Village, will ultimately offer 41 home sites, beginning with a first phase of 14 that will be available for sale beginning in early 2019. The gated community 1 mile north of the SeeWee Outpost will offer half-acre lots and prices starting in the low $600,000s, according to Benware, who is quarterbacking the project for Carolina One.
“I think that definitely is the direction development is headed, because there are less land constraints up there, other than the Francis Marion National Forest,” Benware said, referencing Mount Pleasant’s efforts to limit growth. “... So I think that is definitely the trend. Everything is coming up that way. So really, there’s less of a need for people to be close to the bridge anymore.”
In McClellanville, Allston Leland sees it, too. His recent clients have included not just the usual array of retirees and transplants from out of state, but also a young couple from Mount Pleasant looking for a change. They’re not alone, he said — McClellanville is seeing more young couples with children, more homebuyers interested in its older subdivisions, more people looking for what the picturesque town has to offer.
“Mount Pleasant is a great place. My wife is from there,” added Leland, broker in charge at Leland Company in McClellanville. “… But it seems the last five years, the development has kind of mushroomed, and it’s just gotten overwhelming. People who have been in Mount Pleasant for two or three generations, they’re starting to feel overwhelmed. So we’re definitely starting to see some of that.”
Although separated by just 10 miles in northern Charleston County, McClellanville and Awendaw offer potential homebuyers very different things. McClellanville is a tight-knit, waterfront community with an historic village, defined by its fishing fleet anchored just off downtown. Homes in the village and on water such as Jeremy Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway are often in demand, Leland said, though inventory in those areas can be tight.
Awendaw, meanwhile, offers the convenience of stores and amenities in northern Mount Pleasant, without having to battle the traffic on a daily basis. Promotional materials for Awendaw Village point out that the forthcoming development will be 6 miles from both Roper St. Francis Hospital and Wando High School. Wando will be the high school serving the community, and residents will have the ability to opt-in to Mount Pleasant’s elementary and middle schools, Benware said.
“I think there will be some people who’ll want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Mount Pleasant, but for whatever reason will want to stay close to Mount Pleasant,” he added. “So you’ll have some of that. This is all speculative, but I anticipate a number of buyers being active adults — their kids are moving out of the house, they want a bigger lot, and they don’t need to drive downtown every day.”
Indeed, the commercial heart of Mount Pleasant has shifted up Highway 17, opening more shopping and dining options to those living in the northern end of the county. For residents of Awendaw and McClellanville both new and old, that growth offers a convenience — and a challenge.
“It’s a gradual thing. It’s certainly not like it was in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Leland, a lifelong McClellanville resident. “When I hear concerns about more people moving to McClellanville, I tell them, ‘You’ve got to be a pretty laid-back individual to come to McClellanville and settle in to begin with.’ So we tend to attract a very nice clientele. As a general rule, we’ve been real lucky in that respect. So far, I don’t feel alarmed.”