COLUMBIA — After its first waterfront neighborhood sold out in a year, Charlottesville, Va., based American Land Holdings is developing its second north Lake Murray community.
When the company announced Palmetto Pointe, the first new lakeside subdivision to grace the shores of "The Jewel of South Carolina" in nearly a decade, in summer 2019, it became so popular that people were paying $250 just to get an early look at a lot.
Now developer Dean Sinatra hopes to repeat that success with Stewart Landing, a new 205-acre residential development near Newberry.
The popularity of Lake Murray, along with a high-performing school district, have been factors in making Lexington County the fastest growing in the Midlands. In 2019, the county's population rose by 1.5 percent, which is faster than the state's growth rate of 1.3 percent and the .4 percent growth next door in Richland County, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.
Home sales haven't slowed even as other parts of the economy ground to a halt amid the international coronavirus pandemic this year.
"For whatever reason, the flood gates opened," Sinatra said. "Folks want to get a little more rural and they realize they can work from home more."
Land around the lake rarely becomes available for new development. That combined with the nearby Samsung washing machine plant bringing 1,000 jobs and a need for new housing, Newberry could find itself home to the next population boom.
"We need rooftops," said Newberry County Economic Development Director Rick Farmer.
The development is named after the historic family home of Robert Stewart, a prominent Newberry merchant, that was built in 1842 and moved to the property 20 years ago. Sinatra is modeling Stewart Landing after popular Lowcountry communities like Mount Pleasant's Ion, Summerville's Nexton or Hilton Head's Sea Pines.
A vestige of the 2008 financial crisis, the previously foreclosed property was being held by Enterprise Bank in Walterboro when Sinatra bought it.
With 175 lots, ranging in size from 1/4 acre to 5 acres, homeowners will be able to choose between waterfront, water view, and interior properties. The homes will be built in groups of four or five located down a shared private drive off the main road, Sinatra said.
Lot prices will range from $10,000 to $200,000, with about a quarter of them having water frontage.
American Land Holdings is investing more than $15 million in the property, including water and sewer infrastructure upgrades to the Newberry County system. Factoring in the work done at Palmetto Pointe, that brings the company's total Lake Murray-area capital investment to more than $30 million in a two-year period.
The company specializes in the development of recreational waterfront vacation home communities. But a large chunk of buyers that filled Palmetto Pointe came from the local market, many wanting to move out of Lexington County due to overcrowding.
"Nobody wanted to take the risk being further out in Saluda County," Sinatra said. "I think now we've proven you can go to Newberry."
Stewart Landing is near other high-end communities and even closer than Palmetto Pointe to the towns of Lexington and Chapin and Interstate 26.
Amenities will include a 6,500-square-foot club house, 110-slip marina and walking trails.
The company is seeking final planning commission approvals with plans to start construction in February or March. Completion is planned for the second half of 2021, with a grand opening in September or October.
Back at Palmetto Pointe, 20 landowners have building permits and 16 homes are under construction. Those homes range from 2,000-square-foot weekend getaways to $750,000 villas on the water.
This story has been updated to correct the headquarters location of American Land Holdings.