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From The Blog

Navigating the Maze: Kiawah Partners Is Kiawah’s Master Developer

From the conveyance of non-buildable land to the end of the Amended and Restated Development Agreement in December, Kiawah Partners has been in the island’s news a lot over the past few months. But who is the company and what does it do on the island?

Get to know Kiawah Partners in our monthly Maze of K’s series.

We all know Kiawah is a planned community; while the first access bridge and a few homes along Eugenia were built by the Royal family, the planned development started with the original master developer, the Kuwaiti government-owned Kiawah Island Company, in the mid-70s. Kiawah Resort Associates and Kiawah Development Partners continued the development following the Kuwaiti exit, and sold the resort portion of the island holdings. In 2013, South Street Partners, a private equity real estate investment firm, bought the assets now known as Kiawah Partners and became the master developer. South Street also owns high-end properties at Palmetto Bluff and the Cliffs, among others.

The Kiawah Island Club

While Kiawah is in the later stages of build-out, you may still encounter Kiawah Partners in action around the island. The developer runs the Kiawah Island Club and its facilities, like the Beach Club (pictured above), the Marsh House, the River Course and Cassique, and more. 

Kiawah Island Real Estate

Kiawah Island Real Estate, the highest-volume real estate broker on the island according to their year-end property report, also falls under the umbrella of Kiawah Partners. In 2023, KIRE represented parties in 74% of all island real estate transactions, making the agency some of the very first to welcome most members to ownership. 

Kiawah Partners and Kiawah Island Real Estate are responsible for publishing the annual Kiawah Legends magazine. Each year, the magazine showcases the things that make the island and its surroundings so special, with articles, profiles, and stunning photos. 

The Architectural Review Board

Members may also interact with a subsidiary of the developer through the Kiawah Island Architectural Review Board. The ARB oversees the island’s aesthetic components by providing standards and guidelines for community areas as well as residences, in accordance with the development’s comprehensive Master Plan. Members must engage with the ARB during a new home construction project, a landscape update or a remodeling project. ARB approval is required for most island projects. The ARB’s philosophy and standards are outlined in its document, Designing with Nature. In December 2023, the developer announced the ARB would begin a gradual transition to KICA in mid-2024.

Currently, the ARB has a member director, Howard Pharr, and a KICA-appointed director, Ed Monahan, KICA’s director of Livability, in addition to four other appointed architecture and landscape design experts. 

Continuing Development on the Island

As the master developer, Kiawah Partners is still in the process of building on the island. The developer has several holdings in West Beach bordering Beachwalker Drive. The Cape Club for KI Club members is well underway. (The Cape itself is being developed by a third-party developer.) The West End and Ocean Pines are in the initial stages of development. Site plans for both are currently under review by the Town of Kiawah Island.

Additionally, the developer also owns Orange Hill on Johns Island, a 933-acre residential community and golf course.