Forbes on Kiawah River | January 2020

The original article by Sheri Koones was published on January 1, 2020 on 


As our society becomes more and more divided politically, people seem to want to connect more and find communities where they can interact with others in a friendly way. After living in a large isolated house for many years myself, I appreciate living in one of those tight, small communities where people are friendly to each other and available to offer a needed cup of sugar or just a chat.

Planned communities, such as agrihoods (agricultural communities) and cottage communities are popping up around the United States and the world.

I recently met with people from the Kiawah River community and I was so impressed with how environmentally conscious and beautiful it looked. They responded to some questions about this new community.

Can you describe this new community you are developing? 

Kiawah River is a sea islands village community near Charleston, South Carolina. With 20 miles of shoreline, 2,000 acres of picturesque land, and a 100-acre working farm, it’s a place where life is centered on outdoor pursuits and traditional Lowcountry sea island pastimes. The community will combine residential, retail and hospitality offerings with custom homes, semi-custom homes and homesites featuring high-quality coastal architecture.

What makes this similar and different from other planned communities?

By creating Kiawah River, we have established a new type of community. While we offer homes, neighborhoods and amenities, it is uniquely organic in nearly every other aspect.  What makes Kiawah River special is its originality. Its blend of natural and planned amenities, paired with its long-standing commitment to conservation, creating a new kind of self-sustaining community with a strong connection to nature.

The distinctions that set Kiawah River apart from other communities are rooted in its authenticity. The on-site 100-acre working farm has been active since the 1700s. In fact, it is actively managed by a family of fourth generation farmers on the property. The community employs a CEO, but not a typical CEO; Kiawah River’s active land and wildlife management program is overseen by its Chief Environmental Officer. This commitment to authenticity is woven throughout the community.

How do the various areas in the community differ?

Kiawah River’s master plan and amenities were thoughtfully designed by a world-renowned team of land planners and members of the community’s Architect Guild and Builders Guild. These groups are comprised of local and national experts who specialize in innovating coastal homes and share a vision for the community’s ideals of quality, sustainability and green building practices.

The community is designed to facilitate low impact living through its working farm and composting and its forward-thinking building design that accommodates renewable energy solutions. Throughout the construction process, we strive to minimize environmental impact by focusing on five key areas: reduction in energy demand, durable building materials, air quality, efficient use of water and reduction of waste. The community’s land planners also share this commitment to sustainability. Half of Kiawah River’s 2,000 acres will remain open green space and many areas within the community will embrace pervious surfaces and roadways, which naturally helps with storm water management through means of natural drainage systems.

The heart of Kiawah River features a main street with higher density residential offerings such as villas and cottages, which start at $600,000, surrounded by pocket neighborhoods of lower density, single-family homes and waterfront and village homesites with an abundance of green space. Near the residential neighborhoods, Kiawah River will feature a swim club, a chapel and event space as well as a riverfront inn.

Who do you expect will be the demographic of this community?

Kiawah River was developed as a community suited to a wide variety of lifestyles and preferences, and its most significant market interest to date comes from pre-retirement and vacation-home or second-home buyers.  The greatest market interest has come from not only the Charleston region, but from the Northeast U.S. and across the South.

How do you believe this community will alleviate some of the feelings of being disjointed in society today?

Situated on Johns Island, a barrier island of Charleston, South Carolina, Kiawah River embraces the picturesque land on which it is located. Its rejuvenating, tranquil sea islands landscape is home to diverse wildlife and promotes mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. In fact, 50 percent of the community’s 2,000 acres will remain open space, providing the opportunity for residents to connect with nature and with each other at every turn. From its extensive nature trails that wind through a maritime forest to its outdoor learning center, the community is planned to facilitate and foster connections – even if that means simply relaxing on a front porch under the grand oak trees.

Neighborhood amenities, swim club and coastal expeditions, community shared agriculture program, monthly events to attend, designed to live and entertain outdoors

When do you expect this community to be complete?

Kiawah River is in year three of a 15-year master plan, which will be completed in phases.

What are the key attractions to the area and community bringing homeowners to purchase homes there?

Although it may seem like a world away, Kiawah River is located a short drive from historic downtown Charleston, S.C., which allows residents to embrace the balance of a town and country life.

As a city, Charleston has been named the No. 1 City in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure for seven years in a row and the No. 1 small city in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for nine consecutive years, among many other impressive designations. The city offers world-class shopping and dining and historic attractions with no shortage of Southern hospitality.

In addition to its proximity to downtown Charleston’s, Kiawah River is also located near the region’s top beaches and golf courses and is additionally located on the same island as the Angel Oak, a picturesque Southern live oak tree estimated to be one of the oldest living organisms east of the Mississippi River.

Those living in the Northeast may be especially drawn to life at Kiawah River. Not only does the state have one of the nation’s lowest tax burdens, but the Charleston region enjoys an average temperature of 65.8 degrees with an average of 230 days of sunshine each year.