Perks that set St. Johns Crossing apart are its country setting, sidewalks in front of homes and tree-lined street as in one.

The new community from locally based Catalyst Builders has 70 Lowcountry style homes constructed along its one artery, the uniquely named Bee Balm Road.

"We are tucked away. Coming in here is 600 to 700 yards (of roadway)," says Travis McCutchen, sales manager with Carolina One New Homes at St. Johns Crossing. "It's very quiet, peaceful."

The builder is in the late stages of the first construction phase. There are five homes remaining in that section. Work on the second phase will begin soon.

"Our niche is detached garages, Charleston single style (houses). All homes have porches," he says.

The traditionally designed dwellings, available in 14 floor plans, are priced from $189,900 to $234,900. In a special incentive through July, buyers can get a one-car garage at no extra cost, he says.

"I'm telling you, we are selling homes in the $190,000 to $200,000 range, where people pay (twice that amount)," McCutchen says. "This price point has been good."

All two stories, the models range in size from 1,209 to 2,116 square feet. They are the Calhoun, Sumter, Simmons, Remley, Moultrie, Ashley, Charleston, Estill, Pemberton, Marion, Allendale, East Bay, Alhambra, and a four-bedroom version of the Alhambra. The three-bedroom, three-bath Sumter floor plan is the sales model.

Home standards include 9-foot ceilings on the first floor and smooth ceilings throughout, stain resistant carpet, self-cleaning oven, multi-cycle dishwasher, cultured marble vanity tops in bathrooms, designer light fixtures, cable outlets in all bedrooms and the family room, and 30-year architectural shingles. Most plans have a garden tub and separate shower in the master bathroom.

Yards are landscaped front and back. All the homes back to woods.

Extras are priced out. Subject to special incentives, the costs include $4,000 for a granite kitchen countertop upgrade, $2,480 for a General Electric 26-cubic-foot profile refrigerator, $1,300 for a maple cabinet upgrade, $1,200 for Moen brushed nickel fixtures, $375 for black exterior fan, $2,000 for wood-burning fireplace with Roseville mantel and slate surround and $13,500 for a 400-square-foot garage.

That's not all. "We can do hardwood (floors), surround sound, what anyone's offering, we can do," he says.

The neighborhood doesn't have amenities, but that keeps the homeowners association cost down to $250 per year. McCutchen says the community is close to area attractions, from the Stono River and Atlantic Ocean to the historic district. "It's only 10 to 12 minutes to downtown Charleston," he says. Closer by are a Food Lion grocery store and a Harris Teeter under construction.

The moderately priced homes are proving popular with students at the Medical University of South Carolina. In some cases, parents bought the house as a place for their son or daughter to live.

Another eager group is first-time homebuyers. "We see a lot with the $8,000 (first-time homebuyer) tax credit." Purchasers are still eligible for the credit if they close before Dec. 1. He says people can make the deadline if they buy now.

The neighborhood has about 15 occupied residences. "We've got 50 to 55 to sell," McCutchen says. "So far, it's been good."

To locate St. Johns Crossing from downtown Charleston, cross the Ashley River Bridge and keep left. Bear left onto Folly Road, and turn right onto Maybank Highway across the Wappoo Cut bridge. Follow Maybank onto Johns Island. Turn right on River Road. St. Johns Crossing is about a mile ahead on the left shortly before Murraywood Road.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com

DEVELOPMENT CONTACT

Neighborhood: St. Johns Crossing

Location: Charleston County

Phone: (843) 284-4981

Hours: 11 a.m-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, or by appointment

Web site: www.stjohnscrossing.net