Johnson Development Buys Site Near Lake Murray Dam


Shops, apartments planned for lake tract

Developer envisions ‘urban village’ aura for prime, wooded location near dam

May 1, 2008

By TIM FLACH – The State

An Upstate developer plans to transform a site that’s a piece of Lake Murray history into a mix of stores and apartments.

Johnson Development Associates of Spartanburg is buying a 43.5-acre wooded tract on the north edge of the dam, across from the boat ramp near Irmo.

Construction should start by fall on a project that calls for a combination of 300 apartments and an undetermined number of retailers, company executive Ben Graves said.

The company wants to create “the feeling of an urban-type village” on the parcel at Lake Murray Boulevard and North Lake Drive, he said.

Neither Johnson Development nor the Midlands-based utility would disclose the tract’s sale price. Lexington County officials value it for property taxes at $700,000.

It is one of the few prime spots left on the heavily-developed eastern edge of the 650-mile lakeshore.

An average of nearly 11,000 vehicles pass by the site daily, state traffic counts show. Planners estimate that will double in the next decade.

Workers who built the original earthen dam from 1927-30 lived in a camp there during construction, according to lake histories.

After that, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. set the parcel aside for decades as a handy source of dirt in case the dam leaked. But it was never needed for that, and won’t be now that the backup dam of rock and concrete has been finished, SCE&G spokesman Robert Yanity said.

Shoreline community leaders are concerned about what will be built on the site.

“It is a very special piece of land that warrants a very special and unique out-of-the-box development,” said Miriam Atria, president of the Lake Murray Visitor Center, which sits next door.

Johnson Development is mindful of community interest in the project, Graves said.

“The last thing we want is a typical shopping center on the corner with apartments behind,” he said “We want to make the two work together.”

Zoning on the site allows residential and commercial development.

The project will be his company’s focus in coming months, Graves said.

At three stories tall, the apartments will be within lakeside height limits, he said. Plans for the type and number of retailers are still taking shape, he said.

Johnson Development already built one local apartment project — The Haven at Windsor Lake in Northeast Richland. The new project by the dam will be more upscale, Graves said.

County councilman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo wants the development to include a marker commemorating the tract’s ties to creation of the manmade lake.

“That would be a good touch,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s part of the history of our area.”




This site is beautiful. It is two miles from my house, and I drive by it everyday. I am confident that Johnson Development will do a great job developing it.
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