IT'S NEVER EASY TO TAKE ON SOMEONE ELSE'S mistakes. That was the challenge facing John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods when it bought Harbourside at Dunes West, a waterfront community in Mount Pleasant near Charleston, S.C.
The original developer sold the property in 1997 to a land speculator who was in over his head, says Mike Langella, president of John Wieland's Heritage Division. Without experience in development and property management, he made a lot of mistakes and “lost the confidence of the folks living in the neighborhood, people in government positions, and [local] builders.”
Area Realtors also had been shut out of the development and, as a result, weren't enthusiastic about showing the community to their clients.
Langella and his team had their work cut out for them when John Wieland purchased the property in 2002. On the facilities side, they upgraded Dunes West's amenities, which include an 18-hole championship golf course and signature clubhouse. Wieland also introduced three product lines to attract everyone from young professionals to retirees.
Press releases and ads announced the changes to the public; meetings with existing residents kept them informed about the improvements.
To introduce Harbourside to Realtors, Langella and general manager Kevin Popson hired a limousine to chauffeur them through the neighborhood on a guided tour.
“The limo ride was huge,” Langella says. “[Realtors] had a negative impression ... about Dunes West. We picked them up and took them to lunch at the club.”
Dunes West also has hosted sales meetings for Realtors, and John Wieland has provided instructors and a place for continuing education courses and offered a strong Realtor incentive program. It's all paid off. “We have a very high percentage of transactions with Realtors,” says Langella.
Market: Charleston, S.C.
Project: Harbourside at Dunes West, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Date sales started: August 2002
Sales through February 2005: 295
Total units planned: 1,200
Unit size: 1,825 to 3,600 square feet
Price range: $250,000 to $700,000
Builder/Developer /Architect: John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Atlanta
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Charleston, SC.