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The Elms Retirement Community

September 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Elder elegance
Elms Village sports 230 tidy homes encircling plush clubhouse and pool

By Jim Parker (Contact)
The Post and Courier
Saturday, August 30, 2008

The breakfast area in Terry Kuhnle’s house in The Elms has a built-in television nook, and the kitchen has hardwood floors. Kuhnle, who is selling the 2,200-square-foot house, says she has enjoyed living in the neighborhood.
Flip through a recent edition of The Elms’ Viewpoint monthly newsletter, and you might see a photo of Maxine Smith’s “latest guest,” which is an alligator, and information about a seminar on “Gator Getters” at the community clubhouse.

While little more than a news brief, the item offers a telling glimpse into The Elms’ neighborhood. For an age-55-and-over community, The Elms is hardly retiring. Residents work out at the fitness center, do model crafts, play cards and go swimming. They can take a trip downtown to Charleston Music Hall, listen to a talk on hurricane preparedness or learn about living with gators while being a bit lighthearted in describing the event.

Smith, active in the North Charleston village, moved to The Elms in early 2006 after 35 years in nearby Northwood Estates. “You feel secure,” she says of the gated community off University Boulevard (U.S. Highway 78).

Smith is house shopping, not so that she can leave the neighborhood but because she wants a slightly larger home in The Elms. Smith says if she can’t buy another home, she’ll stay put.

The Elms opened about 25 years ago when Highway 78 was still two lanes. “It used to be the only sign out there,” says Carolyn Morris, who relocated eight years ago from St. Louis.

As with many neighborhoods, interest ebbs and flows. The Elms, which has 230 homes, and town homes has had lean years. But it’s in the midst of a renewal now.

Neighbors joined together a couple of years ago to fund a new 8,000-square-foot clubhouse with everything from a billiard room to a beauty salon.

Real estate activity has picked up some. Homes in The Elms are 832-2,200 square feet and $104,900-$283,000. The regime fee is $190 a month. Lots are good-sized and back up to wetlands in some cases.

“There’s lots of nature,” says Randy Mescher, Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate.

The surrounding area has undergone a growth spurt. Highway 78 is dotted with restaurants, offices and shops.

Wannamaker Park is right next door,” says Michael Hobson, partner in the Hobson Group Realty.

Charleston Southern is a mile north, and the Rivers Avenue row of auto dealerships is about a mile south. “I-26 to (U.S.) 78 has grown up,” he says.

Even sellers are pleased with their stay at The Elms. “I loved it. All the medical facilities nearby,” says Terry Kuhnle, who has one of the larger houses in the community on the market. “The neighborhood was pretty quiet.”

Morris, who played a role in getting the clubhouse expanded, says The Elms has “tons of amenities.”

Adds Kuhnle, “It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the area.”

Directions to The Elms

To reach The Elms from downtown Charleston, travel west on Interstate 26 to U.S. Highway 52, exit 209A. Follow the exit onto Rivers Avenue. Stay in the right lane onto Highway 78. Continue on Highway 78 to The Elms sign and turn right. A secondary approach is to take I-26 to the Highway 78 exit (205B). Turn right on Highway 78, then left at The Elms entrance.

Neighborhood Overview

The Elms.


Charleston County.

Total homes


Home sizes

832-2,200 square feet.

Home prices


Lot sizes

1/5 of an acre and up.

Typical features

–Gated community.

–Lawn maintenance.

–Exterior home maintenance, including pressure wash and painting.

–Ranch-style homes.

–Hardwood floors.


–Walking trails.

–Swimming pool.

–Tennis, shuffleboard courts.

–Clubhouse with 150-seat banquet hall, library, fitness area, beauty salon, billiard room.

–Weekly rides to lunch, grocery shopping.

Property taxes

$1,032 on a $200,000 home.

Area attractions

Trident Medical Center, Wannamaker County Park, Charleston Southern University, Northwoods Mall, Charleston International Airport, Trident Technical College, Exchange Park Fairgrounds, Centre Pointe shopping plaza and Tanger Outlet center, Rivers Avenue auto dealerships and Interstate 26.

Distance to downtown Charleston

17 miles.


A.C. Corcoran Elementary

Grades K-5; phone, 764-2218; enrollment, 539; certified staff, 38; PACT results, 7.5 percent of fifth-graders scored proficient or advanced on English/Language Arts, 11.1 percent on math, 7.2 percent on science and 15.4 percent on social studies.

Alice Birney Middle

Grades 6-8; phone, 764-2212; enrollment, 611; certified staff, 50; PACT results, 10.6 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient or advanced on English/Language Arts, 5.5 percent on math, 6.1 percent on science and 0.9 percent on social studies.

R.B. Stall High

Grades 9-12; phone, 764-2200; enrollment, 904; certified staff, 74; SAT results, 367 verbal and 384 math. The 751 combined score is lower than the state average (984) and the national average (1017).

Housing Trends

North Charleston outside Interstate 526:

Number of sales in the second quarter of 2008: 235 (down from 366 in the second quarter of 2007).

Average sales price: $231,800 (down from $245,600).

Median sales price: $155,000 (up from $150,000).

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or

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