Savannah Lakes Village, new partner look to reinvigorate development

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The resort peninsula that borders Savannah Lakes Village, along with other properties, were purchased at auction by SLV Property Holdings LLC, a group out of Boston. In addition to purchasing the 10 1/2-acre resort peninsula, which includes a lodge, conference center and restaurant, the group entered into an agreement with McCormick County’s Forfeited Land Commission to acquire 2,005 interior properties for future development.

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Savannah Lakes Village officials believe they are taking a major step toward achieving their vision of becoming the premier lakefront residential destination in the Southeast.

SLV Property Holdings LLC, a development group from Boston, has acquired more than 2,005 interior properties in the village — and the group also purchased the dormant resort peninsula along U.S. 378, along with 10 tracts of nearby land, at a recent auction.

The 2,005 properties the group acquired were previously held by speculative investors who acquired them before the 2008 real estate downturn, said Kirk Smith, chief operating officer and general manager of the Savannah Lakes Village Property Owners Association. Those properties have been tied up in McCormick County’s Forfeited Land Commission. SLV Property Holdings LLC reached an agreement with the commission on the property acquisitions.

The resort peninsula includes an 80-room lodge, a large conference center and a restaurant. Smith said the village’s new principal development partner — the first since Cooper Communities originally developed the village in the late 1980s and throughout the ‘90s — will help reinvigorate development and bring a significant new level of marketing investment.

SLV Property Holdings LLC purchased the resort peninsula properties for $1.5 million. They acquired the 10 tracts of land for $835,000.

The journey to find a principal development partner has been a four-year process, and Smith credits the village’s strong financial position and attractiveness of the community as a couple of reasons the new partner was interested in the venture.

SLV is a thriving village with 5,000 homesites, two championship golf courses, two restaurants and a recreation facility with indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, tennis courts and a bowling alley.

The village has 1,200 housing units and a full-time resident population of about 2,300. The property owners association has produced a net income for the past four years and has been able to reinvest in the community through various capital projects.

“From our perspective, this was the second-best historical day in the history of our community with the development group acquiring all of these properties – second only to the day Cooper Communities put the shovel in ground and announced their future development of the community,” Smith said.

The lodge, which has been closed since the spring of 2015, was owned by Lodge Group LLC, while the 10 tracts of land purchased at auction were owned by Eight Acres LLC.

Smith said there is great potential for new development on the peninsula, and that the lakefront restaurant could become a popular spot. He also said the development partner, which is independent from the nonprofit property owners association, will use the conference center to support its sales and marketing efforts, and could potentially transform the center into a community amenity one day.

“We saw this as a tremendous opportunity to rebrand and relaunch the entire Savannah Lakes Village project,” said Robert Bradley, one of two principal representatives with SLV Property Holdings LLC. “We saw it as a sleeping giant. It was a diamond in the rough that caught our attention.”

Jim Walsh, the other principal representative, said he and his partner have been looking at investing in the community for nearly two years. Walsh said he sees a lot of promise along the peninsula. He said the first goal is to get the conference center up and running as a sales and marketing office. They then hope to turn their attention to the lodge, which he said has been in disrepair for some time, he said.

“We are looking at maybe reinventing the lodge and not reopening the lodge but building condominiums,” he said. “There is a need for lodging for people who come down and are looking to stay and play, and for people living there now to have guests — and also for tourists.”

Smith said the most immediate return is increasing the number of new homes being built to meet the demand of the market.

The development partners said they have an aggressive marketing and sales plan, and they will be working with local and other homebuilders.

SLV and its partner, following at 30-day closing period on the properties, will start looking at the master plan for the community, which Smith said will eventually include some mixed-use town center development.

Smith said that beyond the excitement, work will begin on reintroducing the properties and destination on Lake Thurmond to the marketplace.

This is the first centralized developer since Cooper Communities sold all 4,954 homesites and built the community amenities.

“Over that time period, the community has continued to grow,” Smith said. “Now these properties are freed up for productive housing development and sales to families that are attracted by the lake, golf and the lifestyle the community provides.

“Obviously, we are very excited,” Walsh said. “We are ecstatic about the outcome. We kind of ran the tables on getting more than we expected.”

Bradley said his team will be looking to open the village up to new markets, including younger families.

“The value you get and the quality of life at Savannah Lakes Village is unsurpassed, and it’s an incredible attraction,” he said.

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