Feeling Grove-y: Contrasting builders frame homes in upscale Dorchester County village near Ashley River

Ashley Alessandrini watches son Anthony and daughter Isabella play a game in the front yard of their Cedar Grove home. The family likes the community’s friendly nature (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).

By JIM PARKER The Post and Courier

As a burgeoning family, the Alessandrinis were eager to vacate a 1,500-square-foot home they’d bought a few years earlier but had nearly outgrown.

Their wish didn’t take long to happen. Husband and wife James and Ashley Alessandrini had toured Cedar Grove in North Charleston and liked the neighborhood. They zeroed in on a two-story 3,000-square-foot brick house, purchasing the residence and moving in last summer.

“It’s great: very friendly. Everybody is out walking their dog,” James Alessandrini says. Their children swim at the community pool. He is stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, and the house is just 15 minutes away.

Moreover, the Alessandrinis are expecting another baby, and their home is plenty large enough to handle expansion plans, he says.

Such move-up families are not unusual at Cedar Grove, a removed neighborhood of a few hundred homes and an upscale apartment complex off Dorchester Road.

Cedar Grove effectively got its start in 2003. That’s when Vaughn Homes — a local builder that specializes in solidly-built brick houses — bought the development property and began construction. It has built 200 or so dwellings since then, framing broad, elegant houses while keeping lots wooded.

Then this spring, Columbia-based contractor Galloway Family Homes joined in. The company started raising attractive, fiber-cement-sided houses in a new development called The Crossing at Cedar Grove.

The Crossing, which has three completed homes and five more underway, will wind up with 36 houses. Vaughn Homes, meanwhile, has at least 100 lots yet to be developed.

To signify the scope of the projects, each of the builders this month disclosed agreements with real estate agencies to oversee new-home sales and marketing.

Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, which is handling sales for Vaughn Homes at Cedar Grove, is entering the new-home marketing arena for the first time in metro Charleston.

“I think it’s a real exciting achievement,” says Kimo Esarey, broker-in-charge of Coldwell Banker’s Goose Creek office, who helped put together the Vaughn-CB deal.

Esarey says he has known the Vaughn Homes team including owner Jimmy Vaughn for quite awhile and is impressed with their construction efforts. The builder had a limited sales staff, though, and wanted to get the word out about Cedar Grove more effectively. After negotiations, Coldwell Banker and Vaughn Homes reached an agreement Saturday. “That’s exciting,” he says.

In marketing the new homes at Cedar Grove, the brokerage will have three Coldwell Banker agents on site — Norma Goode, who previously worked for Vaughn Realty as sales associate; Mary Rakes; and Andrew Stephenson.

“We are getting ready to open 20 lots,” Esarey says. Homes are sized from 2,800 to 3,600 square feet and are priced from $270,000 to $400,000.

“The all brick homes are quality, not cookie cutter,” he says. The residences are on ample-sized lots. And the subdivision, while not loaded with amenities, has a small community center and swimming pool. Vaughn Homes, meanwhile, is planning a fifth phase with “absolutely gorgeous sites of the Ashley River,” he says.

Esarey contends the Cedar Grove new-home sales effort is more than a one-time event in the Charleston area.

“To me this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “I think Coldwell Banker offers a lot of expertise for the new homes market. We are national, international.”

Contrasted with the Vaughn Homes-Coldwell Banker offerings is The Crossing at Cedar Grove, where Galloway Family Homes is pairing with Carolina One New Homes as marketing group.

The builder, headed by brothers Bennett and Clint Galloway, has 35 years experience in the business. It is framing houses in four neighborhoods in the Charleston area.

Galloway Family Homes is offering six floor plans at The Crossing, with prices from the mid $280,000s. Features include nine foot smooth ceilings on the first floor; fireplaces; granite countertops in the bathrooms and kitchens; stainless steel kitchen appliances; and in most plans, three-car garages.

Houses are fiber-cement-sided, a difference from the Vaughn dwellings, Chris Eller says. He is on-site agent for Carolina One New Homes, which is by far the largest new-homes division in the Charleston area handling more than 40 properties.

“Some people like the hardi-board (another name for the various types and brands of synthetic wood-like siding products),” Eller says, because brick houses can be more expensive to heat and cool. Another perk for The Crossing is it is a natural gas community.

Meanwhile, the community’s lots reach as close as block from the Ashley River. “We have a few marsh front options,” he says.

To reach the adjacent properties from downtown Charleston, head west on Interstate 26 to exit 209B at Ashley Phosphate Road. Turn left on Ashley Phosphate and continue to Dorchester Road. Veer right on Dorchester and go about two miles. Turn left onto Cannondale Drive. Off Cannondale, Cedar Grove is to the left and includes numerous streets to the south. The Crossing at Cedar Grove is ahead on the right.

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

CEDAR GROVE AT A GLANCE Location: North Charleston

Number of homes: 200 or more Square footage: 2,200-5,000

Look and feel: Highlighting the neighborhood are three-to-five bedroom homes bordering on woods with groomed front yards. Large live oaks mark the streets. A dozen or so houses on Clearview Drive back up to marsh. While homes in Cedar Grove are brick, they have design differences and, in some cases, distinct architectural features such as gazebos. A family atmosphere is evident with basketball goals and backyard playsets. A few houses have their own swimming pools. In newer The Crossing at Cedar Grove, traditional two-story fiber-cement-sided houses predominate. A number of houses are under construction.

Homes on market: 20 List prices: $276,970 to $599,900

Schools: Oakbrook Elementary, Oakbrook Middle, Fort Dorchester High

Fun facts: New attractions near Cedar Grove are a Harris-Teeter supermarket by Wescott Plantation and the planned Wescott Park across Dorchester Road — slated to include Cal Ripkin Jr. ballfields designed to look like stadiums in Atlanta, San Francisco and Boston’s Fenway Park with its famed “Green Monster”; Cedar Grove got its name from a plantation on the site established in 1684.