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KICA Board Seeks Ways to Revitalize Aging Sandcastle Facility

The primary purpose of a community association is to preserve, maintain, enhance and protect the value of property and amenities within the boundaries of a community.

KICA has always worked to do that, and in 2011 launched an island-wide initiative to revitalize our 40-year-oldcommunity. Research, evaluations and studies were conducted to determine where to focus efforts, and revitalization work on KICA’s common property have been ongoing since then. Landscaping projects included Kiawah Beach Drive and Flyway Drive. Another major undertaking now underway is replacement of Kiawah’s outdated signage and wayfinding system. The effort was comprehensive, working with island entities and educating property owners about the importance of keeping our community current by reinvestment.

Aesthetics were important, but so were critical considerations like new methods of maintaining our massive road, trail and drainage systems. Equally important was meeting social, recreational and wellness needs of members. For many years, boards of directors and management researched and conducted surveys and meetings of the membership to determine what offerings were important to their Kiawah experience. The end result of those years of research was a proposal to the membership last summer for a master plan that included state-of-the-art improvements such as a new pool complex and renovated fitness center. The package included a special assessment to pay for the improvements. The vote did not pass, but interest in better and more modern offerings was high.

The Sandcastle Community Center is 20 years old. Meeting space is limited; fitness space is crowded. Investment in the facility has been minimal since 2008, due to three years of recession-induced reduced spending followed by the four-year amenity evaluation and proposal process. At its first meeting in May, the newly elected board reaffirmed a commitment to providing a better Sandcastle experience, with a goal of doing so with existing financial resources. The board is interested in determining best options and has charged Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Bailey with developing a process for doing so. “Most of our members view high quality amenities, and in particular, improvements to the Sandcastle, as important to their ownership experience and property values,” COO Jimmy Bailey commented. “I’ve had a number of members tell me that they didn’t support the amenity proposal, but felt strongly that the Sandcastle should be improved.”

To that end, Jimmy is considering every possible option. “The KICA conference room right now has displays of everything that’s been considered over the last few years,” he said. “Ideally, anything we do will capitalize on the site’s spectacular ocean views. However, any plan must remain consistent with Kiawah’s“ Designing with Nature” philosophy, as well as limitations on parking and other constraints.”

The three key functions of the Sandcastle are pool/beach access, fitness and wellness, and community meeting space. KICA is fortunate to have Bruce Stemerman as board chair.  His professional background is in the hospitality industry, and he understands issues of space management. He and Jimmy have walked the Sandcastle property discussing possibilities. KICA’s pending purchase of the Town Municipal Center on Beachwalker Drive could influence the planning process, and potentially relieve some pressure at the Sandcastle. Not all the new space will become offices, so some of the current Sandcastle functions – most likely meeting space – could shift to the Beachwalker facility. “The Town Hall purchase will allow us to expand our thinking, and hopefully find a solution that enhances the member experience, makes financial sense, and is worthy of Kiawah.”

There is no timetable on when these improvements may occur, but as KICA considers its options, members who would like to share comments may email [email protected].

Article contributed by Digest Feature Reporter Sue Schaffer.