“Don’t tell our friends in Boulder,” Jamie Pentz and his wife Lisa jokingly begin their story of Coming to Callawassie. What they said next is chidingly off the record but suffice it to say it’s a bit of a love story for what they found when they crossed the causeway: An island home at the heart of the trifecta – Hilton Head, Beaufort, Savannah – and for many, it’s the heartbeat of the area.
“We love it in Colorado – I grew up in the mountains; my wife is a real estate agent who’s done extremely well out there, but she’s from North Carolina so we had both of those things going when we first started to think about a home here. We started searching the whole stretch from Hilton Head Island to Dataw and everywhere in-between looking for somewhere that was near the beach that wasn’t AT the beach. They all had different things to offer – Colleton, Oldefield – different personalities. We were just getting familiar.”
“Lisa’s parents were living down in St. Simons Island [Georgia] at the time and we asked them if they would drive up and look around a few of the communities while we were still out West. I connected them to a few contacts in a few different places; gave a call to Joe Kearney at Callawassie, connected my Father-in-Law to Joe to visit to the island – that day, they bought a house.”
If that isn’t a familiar refrain. In equal parts, it’s the uniqueness and draw of this enigmatic property, the relational culture of the community, the support of management, staff, sellers, owners, and volunteers, and of course what Callawassie Life has to offer from the nature of the island itself to the curation of amenities and resources customized for residents, in large part by residents.
“When we decided to buy, we ended up buying something that needed a good amount of renovation, but the whole thing evolved,” Pentz says of he and his wife falling more in love with the idea every day. “We were going to look for a little cottage where we could spend two months out of the year. We ended up getting a home and are planning on spending most of our time here.”
Yet another favorite line in the song of Coming to Callawassie, influenced by how accessible and approachable the process is for learning what sets this place and people apart.
“For the lunch with a member program, they matched me with someone from Denver, but not only are you matched up with like experiences and backgrounds, you also quickly realize, you’re getting to know someone you’re going to see if you live here. It’s unique to Callawassie: In Boulder we lived on the golf course and belonged to the Country Club, but not everyone who lived on the golf course is a member – out here, they’re a member so you know they’re going to be around.”
“There’s a different kind of connectivity and I love that about the island. Everyone waves – which I thought was funny in the beginning – but then you realize it’s because, if you see someone on the island, you know they’re a member, and that means you’re going to see them again. Everyone’s a neighbor.”
“That’s unique to this development and something we haven’t seen before. Maybe it’s not for everyone but to us it’s special. Ownership of this island and the club – everything is interconnected. Plus, there are only 500 homes which adds another level of accountability – you even drive more carefully knowing people are going to know who you are.”
“The other thing I love about Callawassie is that it IS an island and at some point, it’s going to be fully built out. You see some of the struggles some of the other places are having with expansion or hotels and soon, you can’t get a tee time or a dining reservation. We know there’s a limit and this will be exclusively manageable as a community, not too much different decades down the road than it is now.”
That’s part of the legacy investment that residents know they’re buying into when they find their home on Callawassie – buyers who also are committed to “buy-in” as the community is primarily owner driven and run. “The Board is all homeowners,” Pentz reminds, “which means they’re making the decisions that are best for homeowners and the whole community – long term decisions that benefit property owners rather than guests, growth, or industry.”
“We miss our friends, we really do, and we go back. But Callawassie has made it easy to build a life here as well. It’s a ‘come join us’ attitude that helps you assimilate and find your people. I’m golf, my wife is tennis – but there’s hiking, kayaking, cards. Whatever it may be, it’s the people involved who make sure you know how to find what you love and become a part of it. Find your place and your people.”
In the end it was exactly that which called the Pentzes west of the Rockies to become (mostly) Lowcountry Locals, “This feeling,” Pentz says, “that this is where we want to spend our time and where we want to get to know more people.”
Callawassie Residents know what that means.
It’s that feeling where this is your home, and everyone’s a neighbor.