KIAWAH ISLAND — A real estate investment firm that owns the developer of this upscale seaside community south of Charleston plans to build a new golf course on Johns Island and invest in new and existing resort and residential developments on Kiawah and across the Southeast after raising $225 million in a discretionary real estate fund.
South Street Partners plans to transform a nearly 800-acre rural site called the Orange Hill tract into a new 18-hole golf course, a short course and a high-quality practice facility for members of Kiawah Island Club. The property between Bohicket and River roads is now used as an outdoor sporting site for club members.
The underlying land use allows for a golf course and associated amenities as well as residential development, according to Chris Randolph, a South Street partner. He said plans are still evolving for the site, and it hasn’t been determined if homes will be part of the Orange Hill development. The golf course will take up about 300 acres of the tract.
“We are working with the county and other constituents on Johns Island for a plan that everyone is happy with,” said Randolph, whose firm is headquartered in Charleston and Charlotte.
He hopes to start development of the as-yet unnamed new golf course next year, with a build-out timeframe of 12-18 months. He also said it was too early to provide a cost estimate for the new course.
Randolph said the new course would provide an additional playing area for club members to relieve pressure off of the club’s Cassique and River courses since club members’ use has increased in recent years as more people moved to the island and others stayed close to home during the pandemic.
The average club member played 40 more rounds in 2021 than in 2019, according to South Street.
“We think there is a new market of people who have recently moved to Charleston who would have an interest in joining a golf club like this given its proximity to the city and especially since it offers members access to the rest of the Kiawah Island Club amenities,” Randolph said.
The new course will be designed by Beau Welling of Greenville, who is familiar with the island after having grown up vacationing there as a child. Welling previously worked with Tom Fazio, who designed the Kiawah Island Club’s River Course. Welling is also Tiger Woods’ partner in his golf course design business.
The vision for the new course is to create a playing experience that looks like it could have been crafted more than 100 years ago, according to South Street. It will be built around grand live oaks and feature “undulating fairways … and Old World slopes and contours.”
The company’s future plans for Kiawah include additional residential development as well as the opening of the oceanfront Cape Club adjacent to The Cape on Kiawah, a condominium development by Colorado-based East West Partners on the island’s western end. The Cape Club is expected to break ground in August.
South Street also recently acquired the 131-year-old Two Meeting Street Inn on the Charleston peninsula for nearly $7.7 million. It will be refurbished and become an overnight accommodation for Kiawah Island Club members when it reopens in 2023.
Randolph said raising the money for the golf course and other planned developments was challenging during the pandemic but the effort attracted “outsized investor demand” because of “compelling opportunities.”
South Street Partners’ other investments from the fund include the acquisition and development of the 20,000-acre Palmetto Bluff community in Bluffton just west of Hilton Head Island. For perspective, Kiawah Island is about 10,000 acres.
The company also has its sights set on other resort properties across the Southeast from south of Washington, D.C., to Florida and west to Texas.
“We are continuing to look for opportunities,” Randolph said.
Those could include existing properties or new developments.
South Street also owns The Cliffs communities across the mountains of South Carolina and North Carolina as well as The Residences at Salamander in Virginia.