July 2012

Behind the Gates: The Crescent & Eagle's Pointe

Author: Frank Dunne, Jr.

The Crescent

A hometown neighborhood in a gated community is how Property Owners Association president Tom Caffrey describes The Crescent. Tom and his wife Lynne had lived in one of Hilton Head’s busier resort communities prior to becoming one of the first property owners in The Crescent. “There were just so many people coming and going,” he said of their previous home. “We really like the tight-knit community at The Crescent. I just think it’s warmhearted. You feel right at home.”

The Crescent is one of the newer gated communities in Bluffton, with the earliest homeowners taking occupancy in 1999. It is also home to the Crescent Pointe Golf Club, the Lowcountry’s only public Arnold Palmer Signature golf course. But The Crescent isn’t a golf community in the sense that everybody who lives there is a member of the golf club. The golf course is there, but unlike many of the other private golf communities in the area, club membership is optional. That’s a major draw for many of the folks who choose to buy a home in The Crescent, because it provides a more affordable option in terms of annual dues. Ed Funk and his wife Kathy moved to The Crescent from Callawassie Island nine years ago, partly for that reason. “I’m not a golfer and, not that I don’t love Callawassie, but I was required to be a golf member there.”

“A lot of realtors would say that The Crescent is one of the best kept secrets in Bluffton,” said Mary Williams of Charter One Realty. “That’s because The Crescent is gated, so it would appear that it’s private, but it’s really semi-private. You have so many amenities like a private golf course community might have, but you have very low POA fees.” Those amenities include—in addition to golf—a pool and pool house, tennis courts and a fitness center.

Those residents who do join Crescent Pointe Golf Club, though, get one of the better golf membership deals around. Not only are membership dues significantly lower than dues at some of the more exclusive clubs in the area, but Crescent Pointe members also have reciprocal membership with Eagle’s Pointe Golf Club (See Eagle’s Pointe later in this article) a few miles up the road. So you’re getting two golf courses for the cost of one membership. Likewise for Eagle’s Pointe residents who join Eagle’s Pointe Golf Club.

Caffrey’s description of the community as hometown neighborhood is drawn from more than the friendly nature of the people who live there; it is also a reflection of The Crescent’s location. The main gate is situated on the north side of Highway 278 about 10 minutes from the bridge to Hilton Head Island, placing it right at the “hub” of the Lowcountry. “One of the reasons we chose Bluffton and The Crescent is that I’m a professional photographer and I do business throughout the Lowcountry,” said Funk of the decision he and Kathy made to relocate to The Crescent. Its proximity to Hilton Head, Beaufort and Savannah, plus the fact that you’re minutes from much of Bluffton’s shopping, dining and services makes The Crescent a very attractive option for homebuyers.“That it’s on the north side of 278 is something that I always bring to people’s attention,” said Williams. “Because The Crescent is backed by the marshes of the Colleton River, you don’t have to worry about anything being built nearby. You’re not going to have any concerns that the Bluffton Parkway is going to come through your backyard.” To that you can add that although The Crescent is located amid the hustle and bustle of greater Bluffton, once inside the gate you’d never know it, because there you’ll find a quiet, pastoral Lowcountry setting with luxurious homes, nicely spaced amid the rolling hills of the golf course, lagoons, lush greenery and exquisite landscaping.

One of The Crescent’s most attractive features to homebuyers is that it is relatively new. “People who buy here are looking for a newer home, something with a lot of light, and in a gated community,” Williams said. “They may want golf and all the other amenities too, and The Crescent has those options. Since the market is so price driven now, if the home is in the right price point, The Crescent is usually the best choice among comparable communities, because you’re getting a newer home for your money.”

The Crescent was originally a Centex Homes project, but that arrangement changed before the final phases of construction had been completed, so you’ll find a bit more variety in home styles than you’d ordinarily expect in a developer-owned community. The prevailing architectural style is contemporary, but not super-modern. The homes are bright and airy, all have golf, lagoon, or wooded views, and the approximately 400 single-family dwellings sit on lots that range from a third of an acre to a half-acre. At the time of this writing, there were six active listings in The Crescent ranging in price from about $400,000 to $700,000 according to Shirley Marbach of ERA Evergreen Real Estate. “Five of those were under contract within 30 days,” she said, a sign that the market is pretty healthy in The Crescent and a reflection of what a popular choice it is for homebuyers in this area. It also means that there isn’t an abundance of existing homes available, but there are approximately 30 un-built lots remaining. Although The Crescent is predominantly single-family homes on full sized lots, one of its little secrets is that there are 12 condominium units in three buildings located near the Crescent Pointe clubhouse.

That there isn’t a formal club at the heart of the social activities in The Crescent doesn’t mean that residents aren’t active socially. A visit to The Crescent’s website (www.TheCrescent.us) and a click on the Activities tab reveals an expansive list of clubs, interest groups (the fun kind) and activities. “We have a very active social committee,” Funk said. “We have Happy Hour the first Wednesday of every month, for example, and it’s always very well-attended. Basically, we’ve made our own social agenda. There’s no need for a club social membership.”

When asked for a ballpark estimate, Caffrey and Funk agreed that the population in The Crescent is split about 50/50 between retirees and empty nesters and working aged couples and families. You wouldn’t say that there is a profusion of children in the neighborhoods, but there are enough to give The Crescent that hometown feel. “When we were looking we saw a school bus rolling through,” Funk said. “That means there are children, and Kathy and I like that. We wanted to live in a place where we would feel young.”

For more information visit The Crescent at www.TheCrescent.us and Crescent Pointe Golf Club at www.CrescentPointeGolf.com.

Eagle’s Pointe

Just a few miles west on Highway 278 from The Crescent’s main entrance you’ll arrive at Eagle’s Pointe, another Centex Homes concept that incorporates many of the same features and amenities as The Crescent, but on a smaller scale. The most obvious similarities are that Eagle’s Pointe is also a private gated community built around a semi-private golf course, Eagle’s Pointe Golf Club, designed by one of the sport’s top names, Davis Love III.

“The golf course itself is a draw because it’s a Davis Love III design,” said club general manager Brent Carlson. “Even though you do not have to be a member, the golf is an attractive option for a homeowner because the convenience factor is there. You can just hop in your golf cart and zip over to the course.” Those who do decide to become members of Eagle’s Pointe Golf Club also become members at Crescent Pointe and can play both courses (likewise for Crescent Pointe members).

Taking a drive through Eagle’s Pointe, you’ll see a lot of familiar sights typical of a Lowcountry residential community: fairways, moss draped live oaks, pine trees, lagoons and wetlands, all surrounding a 7 1/2 acre lake. Perhaps what is most strikingly unique, though, is its small size. There are only 249 homes in Eagle’s Pointe giving the community an enhanced quaintness and intimacy. “A place so small with so few homes, and built around a golf course, it’s really wonderful,” said Brad Wilson of Charter One Realty.

The homes themselves are also smaller than those in The Crescent and most of the other gated communities that we’ve explored in Behind the Gates to-date. It should be noted that we make frequent comparisons to The Crescent because the two communities were planned together as a market segmentation strategy. “Centex wanted to capture both price points,” Wilson said. “The Crescent is a more comprehensive neighborhood and Eagle’s Pointe provides a more affordable option for people shopping at a lower price range.” Centex is no longer involved in the management of either property.

Models in Eagle’s Pointe range in size from 1,490 to 2,580 square feet and in price from about $250,000 to $400,000. All are three- or four-bedroom single-family homes with wooded, water or golf course views. “It’s ideal for somebody who is in a price sensitive market and wants golf availability without the added cost of being compelled to join a high-priced golf club,” Wilson said.

Like many of its neighbors on the 278 corridor through Bluffton, Eagle’s Pointe is in a terrific location. The front entrance is a short drive from Bluffton’s abundance of shopping, dining and professional services, but once behind the gate, the quiet seclusion makes that all seem miles and miles away. Plus it’s within easy reach of all the recreational opportunities throughout all of Beaufort County and a few minutes from I-95 if you need to get to Savannah or the airport.

Although there is no formalized social club at Eagle’s Pointe, there are plenty of amenities and facilities to accommodate mixing and mingling and recreation. Most notable is the golf course and its clubhouse with a pro shop and restaurant. Since the golf club is semi-private, that is, the public is welcome to play the course, a 640-square-foot “Resident’s Room” is set aside in the clubhouse for residents to host meetings and social gatherings. The neighbors also get together at a picnic area with a children’s playground and covered pavilion, swim in the Jr. Olympic sized pool, or play tennis on two tennis courts.

Eagle’s Pointe’s small size helps to foster a close-knit neighborhood where you’re likely to know most of your fellow Eagle’s Pointers. Residents have referred to it as a “sidewalk community where your neighbors are your friends.” They also enjoy the variety of age groups represented, which makes it feel less like a planned development and more like an organic village.

?? For more information visit Eagle’s Pointe at www.EaglesPointe.info and Eagle’s Pointe Golf Club at www.EaglesPointeGolf.com.??

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