By Terry Bell-Aby, Realtor, CNE, Luxury Simplified Real Estate
When I first relocated to Charleston I certainly appreciated the fact that Charleston offers up an array of different lifestyle choices based on ones own unique interests. Coming from a remote location like Martha’s Vineyard, I was ready for a tad more "hustle & bustle" but not prepared to sacrifice a rural sensibility. With its avenues of majestic oaks, abundance of horse farms, and vast unspoiled farmland, Johns Island was just the ticket. And, even as great as I thought it was when I moved here years ago, there are lots of new and exciting developments that have my clients who are looking to buy or sell on this quaint little island sitting up and taking notice.
Charleston County’s parks have always been fantastic and they continue to be the jewels in her crown. Beachwalker Park is my favorite beach in the area and these days, it just keeps getting better. The park was challenged by the town of Kiawah to address the parking issues arising from its popularity. The lot frequently filled up, often with over one hundred cars outside the gate waiting to get in. Thinking outside the box, the park service chose a queueing software frequently used for restaurants and people standing on line. A tablet computer allows the park employees to collect the driver’s phone number and automatically sends a text to confirm that car is now in the queue. They then receive a brochure for the nearby Freshfields Village where they can grab an ice cream, an extra book, or even some snacks for when their name is called and they head back to the beach. On a recent trip I was told it might be 20 minutes for a space to open up and was delighted to receive a text after just seven. They have even made it possible to add a bit of time in case the availability text comes just as your pizza order may have arrived. This new queuing system is safer for ingress and egress and, they don’t have all the idling cars pumping carbon into the environment.
The park system has also just announced the plans for a new park on Johns Island near the Limehouse Bridge. It will be the first public park with access to the Stono River with boardwalks, crabbing docks, picnic areas and walking trails with special bird watching stations. Included in the plans is a collaboration with the City of Charleston and SC Department of Transportation to find a connection to the City’s West Ashley Greenway that ends nearby. The Greenway is a popular biking and walking trail that connects straight through to Folly Road by way of an abandoned railway. And, if you own a home in this area, there's a good chance that you'll find your local property values rise when this project is completed.
Finally, I had my doubts while it was under construction, but the road widening on Maybank Highway from the Stono Bridge to where it intersects River Road has made life so much easier for islanders. Living for months with the orange barrels and cones was frustrating and it seemed like an endless project. With the additional lane coming off the bridge and the much talked about "pitchfork design" finally completed, the evening commute has been trimmed significantly. And, with the addition of sidewalks and bike lanes – now everyone can travel safely and more quickly.
The newly improved access onto Johns Island presents the perfect opportunity for you to check out the many new restaurants and retail options that have recently sprung up on our scenic, tree-lined island. Casual dining, coffee shops, and more upscale restaurants are opening all over, but primarily along Maybank Highway. If you have not been to Johns Island recently, you really should check this charming community out.