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Plans to build hundreds of houses, a hotel, marina and town-run conference center on the shores of Lake Murray appear to be dead.The developers behind what would have been a major development at Sma...
Plans to build hundreds of houses, a hotel, marina and town-run conference center on the shores of Lake Murray appear to be dead.
The developers behind what would have been a major development at Smallwood Cove sent a letter to the town of Lexington on Wednesday withdrawing their request to be annexed into the town limits. The annexation would have been the first step in plans to put up to 940 townhomes and 160 single-family houses on the 93.5-acre site beside the lake.
Lexington town council had given its preliminary approval to the plan in May. Smallwood Cove would have hosted a 50,000-square-foot, multi-million-dollar conference center owned by the town, as well as a 290-room hotel, restaurants and retail space. All of that goes out the window with the withdrawal.
“The Town received notice today that the Smallwood Cove property owners have withdrawn their request to annex all parcels as well as the application for zoning and the proposed development agreement,” Lexington announced in an email Wednesday afternoon. “As a result, the previously submitted proposal will receive no further consideration from the Planning Commission or Lexington Town Council.”
The law firm Maynard Nexsen, which represents the property owners who had sought the development, sent a letter to the town Wednesday announcing it was dropping its request for annexation and for approval of the plans, apparently coming as a surprise to town officials.
“Therefore, a meeting with Town Council to discuss these matters on Monday is not necessary,” the law firm’s letter concludes.
George Bullwinkel, the attorney who represents the property owners, said the plans for Smallwood Cove would have allowed more members of the public to take advantage of the lakeside property, but the approval process has “overshadowed” that goal.
“The landowner has enjoyed Lake Murray for more than 80 years and only wants the best for the community,” Bullwinkel said. “Regrettably, the annexation and zoning process has overshadowed the thoughtful plans that would have opened up community access to this beautiful location. My client has elected to withdraw annexation and rezoning efforts at this time.”
Last week, an overflow crowd packed town hall for a joint meeting of the town and county councils to discuss the proposal, with many of them raising concerns that Smallwood Cove would add to the area’s traffic and over-development woes.
The development site hugs the coast of Lake Murray along North Lake Drive, above Jake’s Landing and below the Lake Murray Public Park and Dreher Shoals Dam.
Town officials said at that meeting they would seek an outside firm to conduct a traffic study after the initial study submitted with the proposal was deemed “inadequate” and “biased,” in the words of Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall. Any changes to the proposal would have gone to the town planning commission for review before they could receive approval.
Lexington had been appropriated some $16 million by the S.C. Legislature for development of a conference center on the lake. State Rep. Chris Wooten, R-Lexington, warned at last week’s meeting that the town risks losing those funds if the conference center isn’t built, although the center doesn’t have to be built at Smallwood Cove.
Proposed Smallwood Cove development
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This story was originally published July 20, 2023, 9:37 AM.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A meeting concerning a possible multi-million dollar project on a part of Lake Murray got tense among community members Tuesday.The town of Lexington held a Special Work Session to talk about the Smallwood Cove project. At least 600 people are against the development just off a popular portion of North Lake Road.In the town of 23,000 people, some residents seemed to be against the project.The McMeekin family wants to build on 93 acres of land off Beekeeper Court and North Lake Drive.The Smal...
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A meeting concerning a possible multi-million dollar project on a part of Lake Murray got tense among community members Tuesday.
The town of Lexington held a Special Work Session to talk about the Smallwood Cove project. At least 600 people are against the development just off a popular portion of North Lake Road.
In the town of 23,000 people, some residents seemed to be against the project.
The McMeekin family wants to build on 93 acres of land off Beekeeper Court and North Lake Drive.
The Smallwood Cove project would have 1,100 homes, a convention center, two hotels and more.
At Town Hall, a room full of people wanted to know more about the 733 million dollar development plan.
However, more than 600 people signed an online petition against it.
“I put my name on the petition against it because I have not had enough information and even in the meeting tonight we still aren’t getting answers,” Barbara King, a Lexington resident said.
Right now plans are on hold. Laurin Barnes, communications manager with the town of Lexington, says they are in the early stages of what will be a multi-step project.
“We are at the point where the property owner has brought a plan to the planning commission that plan was deferred and so now they are regrouping and essentially. Have to bring it back to the planning commission and present something to them,” Barnes said.
Gianna Todd lives on Corley Mill Road.
Todd said, “I’m deeply concerned about the traffic flow because we have Ballentine in North Lexington traffic using Corley Mill Road going in coming in the morning and the evenings also Corley Mill Road is a historic road and it is not properly being preserved thus reducing the beauty and integrity of the area.”
The McMeekin family is working on a second plan that will be presented to the town’s Planning Commission.
Ultimately, Town Council members will vote for or against the project; however, there’s really no time frame for any of this.
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A 93.53-acre development is set to be added to the shores of Lake Murray.The Lexington property, now known as Smallwood Cove, sits off Beekeeper Court and North Lake Drive near Jake’s Landing on the south side of the Lake Murray Dam.Town Council revealed at its regularly scheduled May 1 meeting that a $733 million destination resort community is slated for the location, taking initial steps to approve the project.The build-out for the forthcoming development, which is set to include a Regional Conference Center to ...
A 93.53-acre development is set to be added to the shores of Lake Murray.
The Lexington property, now known as Smallwood Cove, sits off Beekeeper Court and North Lake Drive near Jake’s Landing on the south side of the Lake Murray Dam.
Town Council revealed at its regularly scheduled May 1 meeting that a $733 million destination resort community is slated for the location, taking initial steps to approve the project.
The build-out for the forthcoming development, which is set to include a Regional Conference Center to be built by the town, is set to take 15 years.
According to Mayor Steve MacDougall, the new community will bring a marina, retail spaces, hotels, restaurants, and even living spaces for residents ranging from single-family homes to condos.
MacDougall called it the largest development Lexington will ever see.
“Because of this investment and this project everyone around us will win,” he said. “Irmo will win, Chapin will win, Gilbert will win, because more people will come to the region and when that happens everybody gets lifted up.”
Council Member Kathy Maness told the Chronicle the development is a great opportunity for the people of Lexington, emphasizing that it’s something that the town needs.
As part of the arrangement for the development, the town will receive as a donation the five acres for the conference center to be built upon, with Lexington taking responsibility for building the street to the center, along with water and sewage. The town estimates its total cost for this will be $30 million.
“I think it's a great opportunity having a conference center there for other people to see what a treasure we have in the Town of Lexington with Lake Murray,” Maness said. “t's a wonderful opportunity for others in South Carolina and outside of South Carolina. to see the beauty that we have.”
MacDougall said the cost for the center will be $30 million.
Construction on the project is set to start within two years and will be completed in phases.
“This project is a public/private economic development partnership which will create destination tourism for Lexington County and provide access to premier lake front property,” the town writes in a release. “Once completed, it will generate substantial tax revenue and economic benefits for the state and local community, including the creation of at least 400 tourism industry jobs.”
MacDougall emphasized that this kind of development has been on the vision plan since 2012, but the town is just now able to bring the goal to fruition.
“We had to create space that is now an asset for the town of Lexington – and not only for the town of Lexington but the entire region,” he said.
This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.
lake murray development, lexington marina, smallwood cove
Bright sundresses, bonnets, bows and Lilly Pulitzer play big in the South — and then there is Hampden, the women’s designer retailer in Charleston, S.C., where the buying approach is anything but provincial.“One thing I can do as a small business owner is continually take risks and make an effort to educate and style clients and not allow the Southern mind-set to dictate what we carry,” said Stacy Smallwood, the owner and founder of Hampden.“My clients discover what we think will be great for them....
Bright sundresses, bonnets, bows and Lilly Pulitzer play big in the South — and then there is Hampden, the women’s designer retailer in Charleston, S.C., where the buying approach is anything but provincial.
“One thing I can do as a small business owner is continually take risks and make an effort to educate and style clients and not allow the Southern mind-set to dictate what we carry,” said Stacy Smallwood, the owner and founder of Hampden.
“My clients discover what we think will be great for them. We built that trust over the last 15 years.”
For fall 2022, “We picked up Victor Glemaud, Sukeina, Meryll Rogge, Dries Van Noten, and each season I probably pick up 15 new designers. I’m always looking for what’s next.”
Last week Hampden celebrated 15 years in business with an outdoor dinner for 75 clients held at a private residence on John’s Island. Fire pits lit up the marsh water and Brooke Garwood, from the band Girl Pluto, performed. The celebration continued the next day with a Proenza Schouler fall 2022 fashion show on a makeshift runway inside Hampden’s 7,200-square-foot distribution center. About 150 clients attended and many shopped the collection at a pop-up on the site.
“Having Jack [McCollough] and Lazaro [Hernandez] with us for this special milestone meant so much to me and our clients, many of whom traveled across the country to join us for this occasion,” said Smallwood, referring to Proenza Schouler’s founders and creative directors. “Their collection truly embodies an effortless and subtle luxury that resonates strongly with our clientele.”
Along the historic, palm-tree lined King Street in Charleston, Hampden has a unique presence comprised of four storefronts for a total of 10,000 square feet. Hampden’s buildings date back to the 1870s, adding charm to the settings. In total, they display about 100 established and emerging luxury and contemporary fashion labels, including ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories.
Two of the stores, each with the nameplate Hampden, sell designer collections for women including Adam Lippes, Carolina Herrera, Christopher John Rogers, Isabel Marant, Khaite, Kika Vargas, Lingua Franca, La Double J, Lizzie Fortunato, Plan C, Marni, Rachel Comey, Sacai, Simone Rocha and Stella McCartney, among others.
Another shop, called James, focuses on women’s shoes including Clergerie, JW Anderson and Ganni. The fourth site, called Small, sells women’s contemporary collections such as Love Shack Fancy, Mara Hoffman and Ulla Johnson. Small is five doors away from the other three storefronts.
Hampden’s sites are named after Smallwood’s great-great-grandfather, James Hampden Small, who emigrated from Scotland and settled in Charleston.
Asked if having four storefronts rather than one is beneficial or not, Smallwood replied, “It feels like one store,” adding that three of the sites are contiguous and connected by interior entrances to get from shop to shop without having to go outside. Elsewhere around town, the competition is primarily monobrand boutiques such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and there is a Lilly Pulitzer as well.
“One of the greatest things about being in Charleston is that it draws seven million tourists a year,” said Smallwood. “We have a very loyal clientele from all over the country, and we have the opportunity to continually grow. That’s the beauty of it. We have so many different people walking into the door, whether from Canada or Chicago, with different needs. We are constantly meeting new clients. That keeps it interesting and so fun from me.” Outside of South Carolina, New York is the second biggest source for clients; Los Angeles, the third.
Smallwood said that last year Hampden generated $16.2 million in volume, compared to $8.5 million in 2020 and $7.9 million in 2019. Showing a small lift in volume in 2020 during the height of the pandemic was “a huge accomplishment,” Smallwood said. “The hardest part was that our margin wasn’t there, because we had to take more markdowns.” She projects $20 million in volume for 2022.
Typically, however, Hampden has just two markdown periods during the year, occurring around Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. “We really stay on the designer markdown schedule,” Smallwood said.
She said her company is “very profitable” and self-funded. About 70 percent of the volume is generated at the stores; 30 percent is generated on the website, hampdenclothing.com. “In the next five years, e-commerce could easily be 50 percent of our business,” said Smallwood.
The website two weeks ago added “Try Now,” a feature that enables shoppers to have a trial period to touch, feel, and try on items at home. When the trial ends, items that didn’t work out are returned and shoppers pay only for the items they want to keep. The feature allows shoppers to try on up to eight items.
Hampden’s distribution center, located at 747 Meeting Street, is about two miles away from its brick-and-mortar retail sites. “We need every inch of it,” said Smallwood. “We use it for our photo studio for the e-commerce site, outbound orders for e-commerce, and for inbound shipments for the stores and approvals for clients.” Golf carts are often used by the staff to go back and forth between the stores and the distribution center.
Hampden operates with four personal shoppers, each with an assistant, and four stylists. Once a stylist achieves over $1 million in sales for the year, they get promoted to personal shopper, and get an office, as well as an assistant. In addition, the personal shoppers travel to the New York and Europe market weeks. The buyers frequently email and text clients on what’s being bought and what’s been delivered or about to be.
“Everyone is on a salary. We are genuinely here to help service the customer,” said Smallwood. “We really home in on creating a buy based on what customers will like and also taking risks on what we think is important.”
After graduating from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 2001, Smallwood, who is originally from Greenville, S.C., entered the Neiman Marcus buying program in Dallas and worked at the luxury retailer for a few years. At age 27, she returned to South Carolina and launched Hampden in 2007. She steadily grew its footprint, first at 357 King Street in a 1,500-square-foot space. Two years later, Hampden expanded one block south to 314 King Street, with another 2,800 square feet, and in 2012, Smallwood launched the James shoes and accessories shop at 312 1⁄2 King Street, bringing the specialty retailer’s size to 4,200 square feet.
In 2018, Hampden opened the 1,800-square-foot Small, at 324 King Street, and two years later, Hampden expanded by another 4,000 square feet, bringing the total space to 10,000 square feet. Hampden said Smallwood is considered the largest specialty store on King Street. In 2021, she began leasing the distribution center.
Smallwood has a clear idea about what it will take to go another 15 years and beyond. “The key to longevity is always being willing to pivot and adapt. One thing consistent about this business is that it’s about change. There has been so much change in technology since I opened. We have re-platformed our website six times. Every two years, it feels out of date again.”
Hampden.com plugs into the Shopify platform. “There is a flexibility there that allows a smaller business to grow. Before it was all manual or hardcoded.”
You’ve seen it all over social media: A-list actors discussing on their Instagram stories why the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is on strike. The SAG strike was the second to hit Hollywood this year, following the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike which began in May.The main point of contention for both the SAG and WGA deals with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the entertainment industry, fair wages and residual payment in the streaming age. Residuals ar...
You’ve seen it all over social media: A-list actors discussing on their Instagram stories why the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is on strike. The SAG strike was the second to hit Hollywood this year, following the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike which began in May.
The main point of contention for both the SAG and WGA deals with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the entertainment industry, fair wages and residual payment in the streaming age. Residuals are long-term payments actors and writers receive each time a showor film is broadcast or purchased after its initial airing.
The double strike may have felt distant to Charlestonians — until Wilmington casting agent Kimmie Stewart Casting announced that production for the Netflix series Outer Banks, which is filmed in Charleston, was halted last week.
President of the Carolina Film Alliance Linda Lee said she’s in the midst of trying to figure out how to keep folks employed while the industry is at an indefinite standstill.
“We have the best carpenters in the world, painters in the world, set dressers that are really good at what they do and can work in any area. We’re just trying to figure out where else they could work,” she said. “Our electricians are incredible, our grips can do anything. … I’m trying to figure out how to keep people working.”
These strikes typically occur when labor practices have not yet caught up with new technologies. Writers and actors have gone on strike roughly every decade for almost a century as new media are put forth, from television to cable to VHS to mobile — and now streaming.
The last time both WGA and SAG-AFTRA went on strike in 1960 was in response to a then-new medium called television. Wages and residual payments had to be established because TV introduced the ability for viewers to watch reruns.
Today, actors and writers are fighting for the same principles in a landscape that has rapidly changed since the last double strike.
“It used to be that when a television show ran, when it was in reruns, the actors and writers would get their residuals, and that would help,” said Linda Eisen, agent and owner of Isle of Palms talent agency Coastal Talent. “Most actors are working for a union scale. The celebrities are a very small number of people in the union.”
Actors and writers say residual payments, which used to provide a steady income, have greatly diminished in recent years because of streaming platforms. These platforms do not pay based on the number of times a show or movie is viewed, and they are very guarded about viewership numbers.
Art is integral to culture and human history, and the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are fighting for the ability to pursue art as a viable career.
“I feel very passionately as a writer, producer, casting director and actor, this is my time [to speak up],” said Chad Darnell, a creative based in Savannah, Georgia. “It sucks that everybody has to fight for a living wage, and we’re at this time in our lives that we have to deal with contract negotiations, but as a creative, everyone wants to show the world what we do.” Michael Smallwood, a film industry actor, writer, director and educator who lives in Charleston, clarified that the WGA and SAG are “not just asking for more money.” The issues run deeper.
“They don’t want being an actor or writer to be an unattainable career goal,” Smallwood said. “There was a time when being an actor or writer could provide you with a middle-class lifestyle. More and more, you’re either rich or struggling, and that’s become the truth of our industry. There are so many below the poverty line.”
AI is one of the biggest threats to careers in the field as it could offer potential replacements for real actors and writers. Smallwood argues that AI not only affects the availability of work but also the humanity of the product.
“As a writer, I don’t want my job to compete with a machine. But as a viewer, I don’t want things to be written by a machine,” he said. “Computers can’t create anything. They can only regurgitate what’s put in.”
“How many people actually stay behind or wait until the movie’s over to see how many credits you notice? It’s a lot of credits,” said Dan Rogers, senior project manager for the South Carolina Film Commission.
Rogers explained these credits are more than just actors, writers and crew. They’re people who love what they do and want to use their skill set in the entertainment industry. “That’s what we’re all about — trying to have our people’s names in that credits list so they can make a living in this industry, which is one of the largest exports in the United States,” Rogers said.
These industry professionals do believe we can expect brilliant independent films to come out of this time.
“This will be the rise of the indies. Fight your fight and make your art,” Darnell said. South Carolina Film Commissioner Matt Storm said, “It’s important to remember this will probably only be months, not years, and I hope that we’re able to bounce back as an industry. When it does, we’ll be ready.”
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