When a Charleston native notes he or she is from jaunty James Island, locals immediately surmise the person is a laid-back, lowcountry-loving, saltwater enthusiast who loves Jesus, beer, and live music. Historically, James Islanders have a reputation for being fiercely loyal to their friends and neighbors and for valuing community cohesiveness and camaraderie. Wanting to avoid sprawling commercial growth and large-scale, residential developments, James Island tenaciously fought to become its own municipality, separate from the city of Charleston.
The town was founded in 1992 and, after numerous legal battles, succeeded in 2012. Maintaining a balance of small-town ambiance and urban chicness, the community continues to flourish economically and flaunt its eclectic personality. Ryan & Jeanne Weekley and Jan Miller, all real estate professionals with NV Realty Group, are natives of James Island. Recently, they gave some insight into what makes James Island such a special place to call home.
How long have you lived on James Island?
Ryan: I was born and raised on James Island and love the small town feel the island has to offer. Plus, you can’t beat the location!
Jan: I spent a few years as a young child here, in kindergarten and elementary school, and then moved away and came back for high school. After getting married, I moved back again and have been here since 1988. I couldn’t stay away!
What are a few of your favorite things about James Island?
Ryan: My family enjoys visiting James Island County Park as it is fun for all ages. The park has a Splash Zone Water Park, dog park, and rope course. It also hosts the James Island Festival of Lights each year. Jeanne and I love that we are so close to downtown Charleston, Folly Beach, and boat landings. Also, the town has two golf courses: The Municipal Golf Course (public) and Charleston Country Club (private).
Jan: The proximity to downtown is awesome; it only takes a few minutes from where I live. I am also near a county park and a few minutes away from Folly Beach. There are enchanted trees that canopy the streets along the water. Many find the end of the island a perfect spot to picnic and watch the sunset. I enjoy frequenting the trendy boutiques, live music venues, the best movie theater, local eateries, and local farmers’ markets for fresh vegetables, seafood, and crafts.
Speaking of restaurants, what are your favorite dining and drinking spots?
Ryan: There’s so many restaurants from which to choose! Martin’s Bar b que, Maybank Public House, Edison , Crust, Mondo’s Italian are a few of our favorites. If you’re looking for a good hamburger joint, visit Melvin’s. When it comes to pubs, the Garage 75, Smoky Oaks, Pour House and Bohemian Bull are hot spots. Also, Folly Beach, which is only minutes away, has a ton to offer when it comes to pubs & restaurants.
Why is James Island a good place for families?
Jan: James Island County Park offers fishing, biking, rock-climbing, sailing, and swimming at a waterpark. Additionally, the town has several choice schools, a recreation center, two soccer complexes, baseball fields, community swimming pools, boat landings, and golf courses. Many of the residents are active and athletic, so the plethora of recreational facilities is ideal.
Ryan: Apart from recreational amenities, families appreciate that James Island is close to downtown Charleston and Folly Beach. Young professionals also like the town because it has great restaurants, pubs, and live music. It’s the convenience of city life without the actual city!
What neighborhoods do you advise for families, retirees, and young professionals?
Ryan: There are so many great established neighborhoods such as Bayview Farms, Stiles Point Plantation, Lawton Bluff, Harborwoods, Riverland Terrace, Seaside Plantations, Parrot Creek, Clearview, Eastwood, Fort Johnson Estates, Woodland Shores and Parrot Bluff.
Jan: Yes, young families especially love Riverland Terrace because it has walking and jogging trails, a playground at Wappoo Cut boat landing. Retirees who want a condo-style, carefree life, gravitate toward The Retreat at Riverland Woods, a gated community with elevators, a swimming pool, clubhouse, and walking trails. This neighborhood is located near the county park, Charleston Municipal Golf Course, and the Lowcountry Senior Center, a happening place for seniors that hosts day trips, dances, bowling, games, and more.
With its eclectic personality, friendly pubs, delectable dining options, well-appointed recreational facilities, established neighborhoods, and close proximity to both downtown and the beach, James Island reigns as one of the most consistent housing markets in the tri-county region. “Residents have the best of both worlds -- the city and the beach -- and they have loyal neighbors who cherish the community,” says Ryan. “That’s why I call the island God’s country!”