Lowcountry projects by Graham and/or Turner
ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    MAY. 1, 2000
I’On I’On is a 243-acre, 759-unit TND in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Vince Graham and his father, Tom Graham, are codevelopers. Geoff Graham, Vince’s brother, is the project manager. The master plan is by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ), Dover-Kohl & Partners, Seamon Whiteside & Associates, and DesignWorks. With only about 80 homes and one commercial building complete, I’On already has a strong sense of community and fine neotraditional architecture. I’On has the look and feel of historic Charleston, which is only 10 minutes away. Upon entering I’On, one gets the immediate sense of having arrived in a “place.” Helped by a very strong housing market, real estate values in I’On have risen sharply in the two years since construction began, and building cannot keep pace with sales. Another 80 homes and a commercial building are under construction. But this development has not always had easy sailing. The Grahams first proposed the project in 1995, and it had 1,240 units. The Town of Mount Pleasant’s master plan called for TND, but the zoning wasn’t changed to accommodate this type of development. The Grahams had to apply for zoning changes. They had the support of the planning commission and environmental groups, but ran into tremendous opposition from residents of nearby subdivisions. I’On was turned down by the town council in 1996, and the Grahams made significant changes to the plan. All multifamily units were eliminated, including the apartments above the retail in the town center. The commercial square footage was reduced. Many of the street connections to neighboring subdivisions were cut. These changes compromised the diversity of I’On, and delayed the project more than a year. But the Grahams were finally able to gain approvals in 1997 and ground was broken that year. The great look of I’On’s buildings can be attributed to the Grahams’ care in establishing a team of developers and architects, and administering design guidelines. The developers established a “builders guild” and selected custom builders and architects to be members of that guild. Habersham Habersham is a 283-acre, 1,100-unit TND in Beaufort County, South Carolina. The project includes a town center with up to 80,000 square feet of commercial space, civic buildings, and 350 apartments and townhomes. Robert Turner and Stephen Davis are codevelopers. The planner was DPZ. Habersham has a rural, informal feeling, like a country village. Most residential streets are 10 to 18 feet wide, and many of them have no curbs. Some streets have one sidewalk, and some have none at all. Mature trees have been saved on every street, and in some cases the thoroughfares zig and zag to avoid trees. Some houses have no front walk — just grass — leading up to the deep, Lowcountry porches. In contrast to I’On, the architecture in Habersham is informal. Most homes are cottages. Many of the 80 lot purchasers to date are investing in future retirement homes, so building in Habersham is slow. But even with only 18 homes built and five more under construction, Habersham is starting to develop its own character. Several civic buildings have been completed — including a post office, which is the first structure in the town center. Also built has been a fishing dock and an outdoor pavilion, both with a superb view of the marshes surrounding the property. Port Royal The Village of Port Royal consists of 45 affordable cottages — which sold for between $78,000 and $145,000 — that are now complete in the historic town of Port Royal, South Carolina. Original partners in Village Renaissance Inc., the development company, were Robert Turner, Vince Graham, Billy Keyserling, and Bob Pinkerton. Turner was the managing partner and president. The project is pure infill, to the point where it blends seamlessly with the rest of the town. The cottages were built on several blocks connected to an economically depressed main street. The project has provided a real boost for the historic town of Port Royal, demonstrating a market for homes and serving as a model for other new development. Village Renaissance Inc. formed a public/private partnership with the Town of Port Royal to develop the site. Because the cottages sold relatively quickly, the partners were able to get a good return on their modest investment. Affordability was addressed by offering smaller homes and finding ways to cut development and building costs. Newpoint This was the project that launched Turner and Graham into TND. This 54-acre project features a grid of narrow streets with alleys, a public waterfront park, homes based on the traditional architecture of Savannah and Beaufort, and two commercial buildings. Striking in its beauty, Newpoint has also been financially successful. Graham was the majority development partner, and Turner the minority (20 percent) partner. The land plan was by Gerry Cowart. Although the homes are formal in their architecture, the alleys are very informal — paved with gravel and dirt. In some cases, very large trees have been preserved. Because Newpoint was required to have quarter-acre lots, they are very deep — as long as 180 feet. This offers generous, private backyards. In some cases, large trees have been preserved. The inside of blocks have a shaded, natural feeling — which contrasts nicely with the formal, densely packed rows of houses on the streets. Broad Street This infill project in Beaufort features Lowcountry cottages built on two streets around a long, central green. The homes range from $105,000 to about $200,000. Streets are 17 to 23 feet wide, with on-street parking and generous backyards. Many of the houses have simple gravel parking pads in the back. A few have carports or detached garages. Most houses are served by alleys, although some have long driveways off the street serving garages in the back. Developers are Vince Graham, Merritt Patterson, Paul Trask, and Henry Lyon.