Home building boom revived in Lexington

The State

The go-go years of residential growth in the town of Lexington are back.

Developments bringing 700 new homes plus nearly 350 apartments are in various stages of approval and review at Town Hall.

And some officials predict the total of new homes in the pipeline could double by the end of the year.

That’s a significant increase over recent years, after a pair of projects with 139 new homes were all that came from 2010-14, officials said.

“What’s happening now is a stepped-up pace but not going wild,” said Stewart Mungo, one of the Midlands’ major home builders whose firm is opening one neighborhood.

The resurgence comes after developers focused on filling in previously approved plans, as the recession dampened additions.

“A five-year plan became a 12-year plan,” Mungo said of completing residential projects.

It also meant steady but less spectacular growth.

Census officials estimate an increase of 2,000 people in town since 2010, half the rate of the previous decade.

Up to 150 new homes rose yearly during the past five years, town Planning Director John Hanson said.

New neighborhoods coming to Lexington are mainly in two areas.

One is the northeast corner bounded by S.C. 6, U.S. 378 and Corley Mill Road, a scenic area adjoining local shopping and within convenient reach of I-20.

The other is the southwest corner along Barr Road, offering quick access to I-20.

Areas in and around the town of an estimated 20,000 residents – a population more than double what it was 15 years ago – remain one of the most popular spots for new homes in 758-square-mile Lexington County.

New neighborhoods taking shape in the town far outnumber the 430 homes proposed during the past six months in unincorporated sections of the county, a report to the county planning commission shows.

Residential growth across the county is returning to previous levels after falling by half during the recession, the report said.

Factors often cited for new neighborhoods flocking to the town include:

• Lexington 1 classrooms rank among the best schools in South Carolina.

• Plenty of affordable sites with water and sewage service available.

• The lure of a resort lifestyle possible along nearby Lake Murray.

Retailers and other commercial projects also are weighing expansion as more homes sprout, officials said.

“We plateaued for a while,” town Administrator Britt Poole said. “Now everything is busy across the board – we’ve started hopping up the ramp again.”

Lexington and its perimeter “is on everybody’s radar,” Mungo agreed.

The surging development won’t overwhelm the town, Mayor Steve MacDougall said.

Coping with it is “a constant, daily conversation,” he said.

Lexington 1 already is pondering school improvements necessary to handle the influx, school spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

Town leaders are installing digital technology to reduce traffic congestion on U.S. 1, U.S. 378 and S.C. 6, major commuter routes lined with stores, offices and entrances into neighborhoods.

New recreation facilities – particularly fields for youth sports like soccer and baseball – are in the works.

For longtime residents, the boom is one never imagined growing up in what was a quiet county seat of 1,000 residents until the 1980s.

“These are not typical growing pains,” said resident Chuck Corley, 56. “But I’d rather have these problems than stagnancy. I just don’t want a build-up that eventually leaves Lexington in the dust.”

But the new boom should be celebrated instead of a source of concern about the challenges it brings, MacDougall said.

“What a statement that this is happening in our town,” he said. “It shows it’s a great place to raise a family.”

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