Residential Bloom: At once sprawling and small-town, Summerville sees new developments spark housing and rental growth

An American flag flies from this preserved two-story home in downtown Summerville. The area is growing thanks to new-home construction, rising house sales and major developments on the way (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).

Geographically speaking, greater Summerville’s the place to be in terms of area economic expansion and more notably the Lowcountry housing market.

“When you look at a map of the tri-county area, where the jobs are created, it’s going to be out this way,” says Karen Bacot, director of marketing for The Beach Co.

The commercial and residential developer has partnered with the MWV (MeadWestvaco) real estate wing to build Parks at Nexton, a 320-apartment home village in the multipurpose community just northeast of the Interstate 26 intersection with U.S. Highway 17A.

“Obviously, the Beach Co. is involved in long term growth plans for the area,” she says.

Construction continues in Parks at Nexton, and tenants are reserving apartment homes that start in price at $965 a month. “It’s coming along great,” Bacot says. “We haven’t announced an opening date,” but it’s expected to be sometime in early February, she says. “They are leasing now. The (rental) office is open.”

The Parks at Nexton launch marks just one development underway in and around Summerville.

The town counts about 40,000 people, and the metro area covers parts of Berkeley and Charleston as well as Dorchester counties. On the west, MWV recently rolled out the planned Summer’s Corner neighborhood at 17A and S.C. Highway 61 west of the Ashley.

It’s the first planned community on the developer’s 78,000 acre East Edisto land tract.

Summerville’s eastern edges bump up to Goose Creek, with both Carnes Crossroads off 17A east of I-26 and Cane Bay Plantation a few miles north on U.S. Highway 176 considered in Summerville zip code territories. So are neighborhoods along Dorchester Road that border on or even stretch into North Charleston.

“The Summerville market is wonderful,” says Mary Parker, agent with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors.

She’s listing a home for $369,000 in the Del Webb retirement village at Cane Bay. The 2,774-square-foot home sits on a quarter acre, “one of the largest lots,” she says. Meanwhile, the home design was one of the most sizable. “They don’t build that one anymore,” she says.

Simultaneously, Parker has listed a house in Cedar Grove, an upscale, primarily brick-home neighborhood in the lower Dorchester County area near Summerville’s outskirts.

“Oh yeah, that one, you can be at Tanger Outlet (shopping center) in a few minutes,” she says. “That (Cedar Grove) is a hot spot for Boeing workers.”

According to Charleston Trident Association of Realtors figures, greater Summerville has been making strides in terms of home sales and price gains.

In 2014, the median home price hit $183,993. That was up 10.2 percent from a year earlier and the 11th highest growth share in the Charleston area. Sales, meanwhile, grew 10.5 percent year-to-year to 1,731. Only five other areas had a higher percentage increase in 2014, and one was the Dorchester Road corridor including southern edges of Summerville.

Also, the Summerville area placed fifth highest in new construction market share last year at 25 percent.

Brock Built was one of the local builders that chose to raise houses in metro Summerville. The company’s well along in Gardner’s View, a 10 home-site boutique community within Pine Forest Country Club with prices in the high $200,000s.

Long Needle Estates, a newer 25-lot neighborhood off Trolley Road, is in growth mode. The community is “a bike ride from downtown Summerville,” says Sarah Minter, sales and marketing manager. Homes start in the $240,000s. “We are in full swing,” she says.

Brock Built has zeroed in on Summerville for its quality of life and economy, she says.

“Summerville is just a charming town,” Minter says. “It’s grown tremendously.” She pointed out the “great schools:” Dorchester School District 2 is often cited for its high achieving schools.

Also in Summerville, “the home sites are larger than in other areas,” Minter says. “The market’s doing very well, especially in new construction.”

To reach the Summerville area from downtown Charleston, take I-26 west to exit 199A for Main Street. It leads past the town’s major shopping area and into downtown. Exit 199B, meanwhile, heads north toward Carnes Crossroads and Cane Bay. Another route is to take I-26 to exit 209B for Ashley Phosphate Road. Turn left on Ashley Phosphate and continue to Dorchester Road. Make a right on Dorchester Road and Summerville is about five miles ahead.

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

Location: Dorchester, Berkeley, Charleston counties

Number of homes: 12,000 plus

Square footage: 803-6,310

Look & feel: Pine tree rich properties, country homes, historic haunts and sprawling neighborhoods can all be spotted in and around Summerville these days. The area stretches to Dorchester Road and across the Ashley River to the west and to U.S. Highway 17A a few miles past Interstate 26 on the east. The central district mirrors small town life with shops and government offices while neighborhoods are partially hidden among the tall pines; dozens of newer villages have sprung up with youngsters swimming, playing soccer and riding their bikes, parents playing golf and lunching at the clubhouse. Summerville has attracted young families to its starter homes, retirees to its quiet lifestyle and professionals to thousands of jobs 20 minutes or less away. The region has benefited from offering value home-pricing compared with other parts of the Lowcountry.

Homes on market: 1,000 plus

List prices: $27,000-$3,000,000

Schools: Beech Hill, Eagle Nest, Flowertown, Joseph R. Pye, Knightsville, Newington, Oakbrook, Spann, Summerville, William Reeves and Windsor Hill Arts Infused elementary; Alston, DuBose, Gregg, Oakbrook, River Oaks and Rollings of the Arts middle; Ashley Ridge, Fort Dorchester and Summerville high.

Fun facts: Summerville High School’s John McKissick is the most victorious football coach at any level in the U.S. with 612 wins over 63 years; the town’s Sweet Tea Trail goes through its business, historic, garden, colonial and plantation districts.