Calhoun project

Construction continues at the Lakewilde of Santee development in Calhoun County. Project Manager Peter Nash has plans for a community garden, gazebo and observation deck overlooking Lake Marion on 388 acres near Lake Marion. The project's first phase of construction has been approved.

LONE STAR - Despite a sluggish economy and housing market, one developer is moving forward with his construction plans.

"I want to be a realist. I don't know how long it will take and how many units we will ultimately do. We will let the market regain traction again, hopefully, and we will let the market dictate just how much we will do," Lakewilde of Santee Property Manager Peter Nash said.

Nash says the approximately 388 acres off Old River Road between Elloree and Lone Star is prime real estate and is ready to move forward.

"It really should be ready for the spring and first-quarter market," he said.

Nash said he has received the first approval from state and local agencies to begin the project's first phase.

The first phase will include the construction of 39 units and about 27 acres. There will be seven two-acre lots, eight one-acre lots and 24 half-acre lots.

Nash expects the homes will be roughly 1,800 to 2,000 square feet, having about three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In addition, Nash said there will be four lakefront homes.

The property was originally owned by Orangeburg dentist Dr. Robert Varn and a local builder who had plans to develop a golf course community in the mid 1990s.

About 25 lots were recorded at the time but the project never materialized, Nash said.

A veteran Maryland real estate agent, Nash said that around 2006 he began to look for properties to develop in the South and found the Calhoun County property ideal.

The county's Planning Commission approved the project as a planned use development with about 388 acres and about 789 units. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2010.

But the market continued its sluggish ways.

"There were no capital markets," Nash said.

But last year Nash moved to South Carolina on a temporary basis to dedicate his days to bringing the project to reality.

"I did not come to do this thing halfway and then run out," Nash said. "I have the funds in place to finish this out."

Nash acknowledged that the initial plans of close to 800 units were preliminary, but he said in many ways such a high-density project could negatively impact the natural beauty of the land.

"People want less with more open space," he said, noting between 400 units and 500 units may be more realistic.

Of the 380 acres, more than 60 acres will be dedicated to wildlife conservation, about seven interior lakes and community spaces.

Community spaces currently include a gazebo and observation deck with a view of Lake Marion.

Planned amenities include a covered pavilion for cooking out and entertaining friends, a community garden and more than two miles of winding trails, docks and ponds.

"This thing will be affordable and lake- and nature-orientated," he said.

Calhoun County Administrator Lee Prickett said the county is doing all it can to help with the furtherance of the project.

"We can provide water in that area," he said. "Hopefully we will be able to let a contract out by the end of the year."

Prickett said there are plans to put a water line from the Lake Marion Regional Water treatment plant in Santee down Tee Vee Road and onto Old River Road which runs to the Lakewilde gate. As far as sewer service is concerned, Nash said there are plans to build a self-contained treatment plant on site.

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