Outstanding schools and a good quality of life are luring more residents into the greater Lexington area, developers and town leaders say.
“Schools are the driving force for growth,” said Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall at a growth forum last year. The Greater Lexington Chamber estimates that 30,000 rooftops will be added to the area over the next 20 years.
As home construction in Lexington County has rebounded since the downturn of 2008-10, the central section of the county has accounted for the majority of residential units. In the first half of 2016, permits were issued for 456 housing units, 40.8% of the county’s total and the highest number of any Midlands sector. Average value per unit was $263,616, according to a report issued by the Central Midlands Council of Governments.
“People want to be in the River Bluff High School attendance zone,” said Andy White, chairman of the Lexington County Planning Commission and developer of Saluda River Club. The 525,000-square-foot school opened in August 2013 on 146 acres off Corley Mill Road. It has flexible and collaborative learning spaces, a learning commons, performing arts center, coffee shop and state of the art media arts and music technology labs, among other attractions.
The Lexington 1 school district has two other award-winning high schools in the area as well as well-equipped elementary and middle schools.
The town has grown by 83% since 2000, according to the town administrator’s office. It is expected to grow by another 80% in the next decade. As for the population numbers, it grew from 9,800 residents in 2000 to 17,870 in 2010.
In 2017, the unofficial count is 20,138 residents, projected to reach 25,000 by the next U.S. Census count in 2020.
“I don’t see any slowing down in demand for central Lexington County as long as Lexington 1 continues to do a spectacular job,” White said.
His development, Saluda River Club, is a community of high-end homes along the river near Lexington. With homes designed to fit people in all stages of life, the development has attracted many young families as well as families with teenagers, White said.
In a naturally beautiful setting, it offers amenities such as walking trails, an outdoor amphitheater and observation deck, community gardens and a clubhouse. Homes range from 4,500-square-foot executive houses to town homes and cottages. The one thing they have in common is a reduced need for outdoor maintenance.
Saluda River Club routinely sells 50 to 60 houses per year, White said.
As the area continues to add new communities, the newest areas of growth are along Corley Mill Road and Barr Road, according to the town administrator’s office. New subdivisions under construction in the town include Madison Park, Village Green and Barr Lake, with a total of about 700 homes.
The town has been proactive in expanded its utility infrastructure over the last 10 years and is expanding through annexations where it provides water and sewer service.
“The Town of Lexington’s water and sewer area is much larger than the town,” said Britt Poole, town administrator, at a growth forum last year. As the system is upgraded, customers pay for the costs in their rates.
“We want to expand the town of Lexington to include our water and sewer customers,” MacDougall said at the forum.
While meeting the needs of families with school-age children is at one end of the spectrum, residences for older adults are also receiving attention. The greater Lexington area has developments and facilities for independent living, assisted living, nursing care and memory care.
Opening soon is Wellmore, a retirement community offering a continuum of care. The development is on Sunset Boulevard next to Golden Hills Golf and Country Club, in the midst of booming commercial growth.
Wellmore will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as cottage homes, according to its website. As needs change, it provides assisted living apartments, short-term rehab, skilled nursing care and Alzheimer’s care.
Residents will have meal service and transportation available, as well as maintenance-free living, social activities and wellness classes.
As far as the area’s construction plans, there is no slowdown in sight. In the town’s borders in 2016, there were 22 new commercial buildings, 149 homes permitted and a total construction value of $107 million, according to the town administrator’s office.
“Any marketable piece of property in central Lexington is a target for development,” White said.