Traditional, sturdy-framed houses from Ryland Homes sprout in lower Dorchester County

Wooded neighborhood near Ashley River blends time-honored Lowcountry styles with modern-day conveniences.

A mile away from Taylor Plantation is a bustling intersection with supermarkets, a filling station and shopping plaza. Yet even closer are a crabbing dock, walking trails and wooded buffers.

With its contrasting allures of retail spots and outdoor haunts, the North Charleston neighborhood is drawing looks from home shoppers.

Ryland Homes plans to build 266 homes in the new community, less than a mile from the Ashley River off Park Forest Parkway. As a sign of its intentions to keep the setting natural, the builder brought in its arborist to tour the property at the community's grand opening this summer.

Susan Faulk, sales counselor, says the neighborhood has a host of ecological highlights, including a dock on Coosaw Creek where residents can put in kayaks and small watercraft, a mile-long trail along the Ashley River, protected by a 100-foot buffer, and a handful of ponds on the property. There will be an amenities center with a set of grills, "a covered place for folks to gather," she says.

Buyers can choose from 14 designs in the builder's Lowcountry models and its Woodlands series, the first time that Ryland has offered the Woodlands group in the Charleston area. Ranch, split-level and two-story homes are priced from $234,000 to $359,000. They range in size from 1,500 to 2,996 square feet, and all plans come with two-car garages.

The generally smaller, less pricey Woodlands floor plans are the Magnolia, Palmetto, Cypress,

Sycamore, Hawthorne and Hickory. Models in the Lowcountry group are the Lockwood, Sullivan, Drayton, Pinckney, Middleton, Rutledge, Cooper and Hampton.

Each of the floor plans has three or more "elevations," or looks, such as cedar shake-style siding accents, dormer windows or a peaked roof over the garage as opposed to the front porch. Depending on the plan, homes come with vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting, tray ceilings, pedestal sinks in the powder room, and master bedrooms upstairs or down — in some cases with sitting areas. Options include extra sleeping space as well as guest suites, screened porches, dens, sunrooms and "kids retreats."

Installing hardwood floors throughout the downstairs is also an upgrade, as are granite countertops. Prices vary, but Faulk says a guest suite would add $3,000 to $5,000 to the cost, while a bonus room would be $15,000 to $17,000 extra.

With the variety of home styles and semi-secluded setting, Ryland expects to attract a range of buyers. They may be young professionals interested in being close to the water or second- or third-time homeowners downsizing to one of the smaller models, Faulk says.

The three-bedroom, three-bath Sullivan floor plan, a ranch-style home with optional bonus room, is one of the more popular models, she says. "Nine-foot ceilings (which are standard in the floor plan) is something people like." The living room has a fireplace, and the kitchen comes with built-in microwave, smooth-top range and 42-inch cabinets.

Wraparound porches are notable features on Taylor Plantation dwellings. "That's what Ryland tries to do," Faulk says. "Capture the local flavor."

To get to Taylor Plantation from downtown Charleston, take Interstate 26 west to Ashley Phosphate Road, exit 209B. Turn left onto Ashley Phosphate and follow it to Dorchester Road. Cross the Dorchester intersection onto Park Forest Parkway. Continue on Park Forest for about a mile. The entrance to Taylor Plantation is on the right.

NEIGHBORHOOD

Taylor Plantation.

LOCATION

Dorchester County.

DEVELOPER, MARKETING

Ryland Homes.

MORE INFO

PHONE: 767-4677.

HOURS: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday.

WEB SITE: ryland.com.

TOTAL HOMES

266.

HOME SIZES

1,500-2,996 square feet.

BASE HOME PRICES

$234,000-$359,000.

TYPICAL FEATURES

-- 42-inch cabinets, dishwasher, self-cleaning range.

-- Double bowl vanity in master bath.

-- Front, side and rear sodded yard.

-- Direct-vent fireplace with gas logs, slate surround and white marble.

-- Stain-resistant carpet.

-- Smootheilings.

-- Wired for high-speed media.

-- Garage with carriage-style door.

-- Up to 10-year construction warranty.

PROPERTY TAXES

$2,450 on a $300,000 home.

AREA ATTRACTIONS

Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site, Ashley River, Frankie's Fun Park, Golf Club at Wescott Plantation, Charleston International Airport, North Charleston Coliseum, Centre Pointe shopping plaza and Tanger Outlets, Summerville Medical Center, Interstate 26.

DISTANCE TO DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON

20 miles.

SCHOOLS

Eagle Nest Elementary

Grades K-5; phone, 695-2460; enrollment, 755; certified staff, 54; PACT results, N/A (new school).

River Oaks Middle

Grades 6-8; phone, 695-2470; enrollment, 712; certified staff, 49; PACT results, N/A (new school).

Fort Dorchester High

Grades 9-12; phone, 760-4450; enrollment, 2,552; certified staff, 160; SAT results, 492 verbal and 516 math. The 1008 combined score is higher than the state average (984) and lower than the national average (1017).

HOUSING TRENDS

Dorchester Road corridor below Ladson Road:

-- Number of sales in the third quarter of 2007: 246 (down from 374 in the third quarter of 2006).

-- Average sales price: $221,500 (up from $217,900).

-- Median sales price: $199,200 (up from $191,000).

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