GOOSE CREEK — A Miami-based homebuilder now owns nearly 1,500 acres in the developing Carnes Crossroads community after paying more than $41 million for the wooded tract next to the massive Nexton development.
An affiliate of Lennar bought 1,475 acres in late May on the western undeveloped portion of the 2,300-acre Carnes Crossroads parcel at U.S. Highways 17A and 176 in the city of Goose Creek in Berkeley County.
A Lennar representative did not immediately respond for the number of homes that could be built, but it's expected to be in the thousands. The community is approved for about 4,500 homes.
Roughly 460 or so houses are currently on the ground, according to spokesperson Julie Dombrowski of the DI Development Co., the community's development manager. Landowner Carnes Crossroads Associates is a client of DI Development Co., as is separate entity Daniel Island Co., which is not involved in Carnes Crossroads.
Most of the land set aside for homes in the community has now been sold, but much of the commercial portion along U.S. Highways 176 and 17A remains with the developer, Dombrowski said.
The community already includes the 50-bed Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital, medical offices, apartments and restaurant and retail tenants.
Upon completion in several years, the original development called for about 250 acres of ponds and lakes and 25 miles of walking trails. A junior Olympic swimming pool is already in place. It's unclear if Lennar will change plans for the green and blue space.
The first residents moved in nine years ago, and the community has slowly been building up since then.
Carnes Crossroads is mostly southwest of the intersection of U.S. Highways 176 and 17A, but a portion of it sits across 17A where apartments and retail tenants have sprung up.
A nearly 16-acre parcel on U.S. Highway 17A is set aside for a future grocery store.
North Carolina-based Harris Teeter has been planning a supermarket on the site since 2009.
For several years, a sign stood on the undeveloped southeast corner of U.S. Highways 176 and 17A in Goose Creek touting the future location of the supermarket.
Twelve years after the North Carolina grocery chain announced its future arrival, the site remains vacant while development has sprung up all around it. The sign is no longer there.
Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib believes the grocer's inaction inhibits the city's economic development.
"It is negatively impacting our ability to grow the rest of the economy in that area," Habib said.
He pointed to a new supermarket serving the Carnes Crossroads community as lessening the number of cars on the road since the nearest grocer is about three miles away.
Food Lion is located south on U.S. 17A near Interstate 26 while Walmart Supercenter is to the east on St. James Avenue and Publix sits to the west at the Cane Bay development on U.S. Highway 176.
"We create traffic going to the store," Habib said. "By them not developing it, it is hurting our economic growth."
A Harris Teeter spokeswoman said the company cannot comment "unless we are currently operating a store or have executed a lease for a future location."
The mayor said he spoke with Harris Teeter officials, who told him the company is committed to putting a grocery store on the parcel but there is not enough development in the area yet to support a new supermarket.
"They said the numbers weren't right," the mayor said.
A representative of national wholesale grocery distributor C&S said the general rule for a full-service supermarket of 40,000 square feet or more to be viable is to have 10,000 residents or about 4,000 rooftops within a 20-mile radius. If there's competition in the market, the required number of residents is higher and vice versa for an area with no competitors.
Habib said the city is in talks with other developers about putting a supermarket on another available parcel nearby.
"We might have one of them before Harris Teeter," he said.
With Lennar buying a huge chunk of Carnes Crossroads and other housing developments on the northeastern side of the city, Habib sees Goose Creek growing to about 60,000 residents in about 10 years. In 2019, it had about 44,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Carnes Crossroads abuts the 5,000-acre Nexton tract between Interstate 26 and U.S. Highway 176, where 7,000 homes will sit at full buildout. It currently has about 1,300 single-family homes on the ground and roughly 900 completed apartment units.