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Walnut Creek thrives, an eyesore no more

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Developers say community now has 700 lots under contract

By Chris Sardelli

What once was the beleaguered Edenmoor neighborhood, plagued with potholes, massive erosion and treacherous pits, has been completely transformed into a thriving community, developers told county officials about Walnut Creek earlier this month. 

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Steve Vining of LStar, which took over the project in 2011, gave a detailed presentation about the goals his company has achieved at the Indian Land property during the Lancaster County Council meeting on June 23. 

To remind council how the neighborhood used to look, Vining began his presentation with a short video showing scenes from the former Edemoor, including interviews of residents who at the time were concerned about their crumbling, unsafe community. 

“In 2011, where we were when we purchased the property, it’s fair to say it was a mess,” Vining said. “The school buses wouldn’t go in there, mail couldn’t be delivered and there were 65 homes of people living in there. It was rated the No. 1 site of concern by S.C. DHEC at the time because of the massive erosion on the property.”

When LStar crews assessed the damage, they found that the neighborhood’s park had been almost 90 percent overgrown, overrode by silt and overtaken by vandals, Vining said. 

“The first thing we did in December 2011 was we changed the name,” he said. “The first priority was to make the community safer. The second priority was to address the environmental problems. So we went to work.”

Within the first month, Vining said crews fixed about 400 potholes throughout the neighborhood, which eased access for residents. 

Another accomplishment, he said, was completion of the EMS facility on the property that was handed over to the county and has been in operation since mid-2012. 

“In fixing problems out there, we spent $3.5 million. The investment we made in the project was to make it a good, safe place for the people out there and bring in new families,” he said. “We then turned our attention to the park. The silt had overrode everything. The pond was filled with 6 feet of silt. There was $2 million spent on that alone to bring it up to standards.”

He said his company also repaired basketball courts and soccer fields, while also transforming what was originally intended as a skateboard park into pickleball courts. 

“We got the place back to where it should have been all along, but we didn’t stop there. We also dedicated (an area along) 12 Mile Creek for the (Carolina) Thread Trail,” he said. 

An overarching goal his company had, Vining said, was to ultimately address all the needs of the residents and to make good on promises previous developers had made to them. 

“We constructed the nicest amenity in the area, a pool, clubhouse and picnic area,” he said. “We’ve got the community back in what we think is pretty darn good shape.”

He said all of the lots in Phase One, about 300, have since been sold, and home sales inside Walnut Creek continue to rise. 

“In 2012 we had 13 new home sales during our first year of operation. In 2013, we had 130 home sales in the community. In 2014, so far we’re projecting about 185 to 200 homes sold,” he said. “Right now, we have almost 700 lots under contract and all will be new homes in Lancaster County. By next year we’ll have almost 900 lots under contract. We project a tax benefit will be $690,000 to the county based on new homes.”

He said the project has come a long way, especially since it’s been attached to seven different builders during its existence. 

“This one I’m exceptionally proud of by taking it from a place where it was a problem to a place where we’re real proud,” Vining said.

Set the bar high

Council members were ecstatic about the improvements and repairs made to the community.

Councilwoman Charlene McGriff lauded LStar’s work and integrity. 

“You guys have really set the bar for how business should be done. You’ve done everything you said you would do,” McGriff said. “You helped us out of a situation we thought was unattainable.”

The changes were a long time coming for Councilman Jack Estridge.

“I was here when the project first started and it was disheartening to see what happened,” Estridge said. “We appreciate what you do. We’re glad to see things mended.” 

One of the most notable achievements was LStar’s commitment to fix environmental issues, said Councilman Steve Harper.

“My niece works with DHEC and they said y’all did everything that was asked of you and more. I appreciate it. It’s a fine looking development,” Harper said.

For Councilman Larry Honeycutt, the project was almost unrecognizable from how it began. 

“You can’t even compare what it was three years ago to today,” Honeycutt said. “Will we start seeing some box stores out there in the future?”

Vining said it’s definitely a possibility some major retailers may one day move locate near Walnut Creek.

“We’ve been marketing it softly,” he said. “We’re actively looking for a good candidate for that spot.”

Council chairman Larry McCullough said their work was “remarkable.”

“You did not only what you said you’d do, but you did it on time, and above and beyond,” McCullough said.

 

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416