A Gem in the “Hart” of Greenville, South Carolina | Hartness Development
“We’re building inheritable homes… that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”
Just a few short miles from downtown Greenville, SC, named #3 Small City in the USA by Conde Nast Traveler and “One of the South’s Best Cities” by Southern Living Magazine—you’ll find the charming community of Hartness. Named for the family that owns the land on which the community sits, Hartness is designed according to the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development—walkable streets, a wide range of homes built to last, and a Village Center, complete with restaurants and shops. Within five minutes’ walking distance from every home, you’ll find an amenity worth visiting—whether it’s a thoughtfully-designed park, a hardscaped plaza, or the Village Center itself. The community also features 180 acres of nature preserve threaded with 15 miles of trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, or just getting lost in the beauty of Greenville’s countryside.
The Hartness family could have chosen many different paths for the 400+ acres of land they’ve called home for decades. In fact, Thomas “Pat” Patterson Hartness and his wife Mary Lou Hartness still live on an estate located on the property that Pat began acquiring in the 1970s. Instead, they chose to develop the land themselves, to create an idyllic retreat just 15 miles from the heart of downtown Greenville.
“We are fourth-generation Greenville folks, and we saw so much development going on around Greenville—other than the downtown area, which was revitalized in a very thoughtful way,” says Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Development. “There’s a lot of sprawl going on, traditional suburban development … There’s clearly a better way to develop property in a sustainable way where we preserve special places and the natural landscape. We really want to give back to Greenville and show that there is a better development pattern.”
The Hartness’ Greenville legacy began in 1940, when Pat’s father, Tom, purchased the local Pepsi-Cola bottling rights—an endeavor that led to the evolution of a successful packaging company with a wide network of global contacts. Pat became the CEO of Hartness International and Sean served as a senior executive before the family decided to sell the company and pursue other avenues—and they are on track for the Hartness community to be just as vibrant a venture.
“It’s naturally an attractive piece of property. There are two streams running through the land and 13 fishing ponds that have been here for generations. People used to pay to bring their boats out here,” Sean says. “The property used to be a large cattle farm. It was really countryside until the time that my father started to acquire the property. To his credit, he has literally planted hundreds—if not thousands—of trees.”
Sean gives a great deal of credit to architect Lew Oliver, who has worked with Hartness Development on land planning as well as vertical architecture. “We’re building inheritable homes, homes that you would see in downtown Greenville or downtown Wilmington. They’re multigenerational assets that really will stand the test of time aesthetically and physically.”
Currently, Hartness Development has a boutique hotel that’s about to break ground—but, like everything in this community, it’s unusual in the best of ways. The home where Sean grew up – and where his father and stepmom still live until they move into their new home in Hartness – will be integrated as part of the hotel’s welcoming front entrance and main lobby area. “My parents could have sold it, but it represented the heritage of our family, and the fact that my dad has lived there for almost 50 years,” Sean says. “We saw this as a great opportunity to repurpose a family asset into something that would be desirable not just for the family, but for the greater community at large.”
Hartness Development is a true family affair. Sean’s brother, David, works in the real estate industry and has been an active part of the development process. Pat and Mary Lou are involved on a strategic level, working with Sean on a regular basis and driving through the property to witness as their vision of an intimate, walkable, beautiful mixed-use community becomes a reality. “Our intent is to take certain aspects of the preserve, have gardens, and grow food for the restaurants in the Village Center,” Sean says. “We have a real desire to curate this project in a way that’s world-class. People will hopefully come here to see this project and say—wow, these guys really did something special.”
The community will feature a number of defining amenities including a central park, sidewalks and pedestrian greenways, unique streetscapes, a commercial center with restaurants and shops, a clubhouse with fitness center, a swim complex, tennis and pickleball, a boutique hotel with spa and a 180 acre nature preserve with 15 miles of trails. Come see 450 acres of beauty in Greenville, SC.
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Founding and growing a successful business is not for the faint of heart. It requires unparalleled focus,unswerving attention to detail, and a clear-eyed sense of one’s goals—as well as the commitment to see them through. Often, getting such a business off the ground—not to mention keeping it running strong—means spending time away from family. In the case of these three incredible developers, however, running their own business is just the contrary. The Viera Company, Logan Homes, and On Top of the World are all family affairs—and they’re much the better for it. All three companies have created business models with room to incorporate family members at every level of involvement—from board members to sales directors, managers to CEOs. When it comes to building a legacy to remember, for these three developers, it’s all in the family.
The Viera Company: A Family Affair
In 1926, Slovak immigrant Andrew Duda and his sons produced their first cash crop of celery—an event that laid the foundation for the establishment of the Duda family legacy. Two decades later, those sons—the “three seniors”—
purchased a 43,000-acre tract of land in Brevard, FL, on what would become the Sunshine State’s Space Coast, with the intent of creating a major cattle operation. Today, that tract of land is Viera, the 15th top-selling master-planned community in the United States. With a deep-rooted commitment to environmental preservation, dedication to philanthropy, a wide range of education and worship opportunities, and stellar amenities, Viera has evolved a great deal over the years. But one thing hasn’t changed: It remains a family affair.
“There are currently 27 Duda family members working for the company,” says C. Scott Miller, VP of Sales and Community Management, who has been with the company for 25 years. “There are 19 fourth-generation family members in roles ranging from the CEO/President position to leadership roles across all major business units, and we have eight fifth-generation family members involved in various facets of the company, from western vegetable operations in California to homebuilding and land development here in Viera. We also have six family members serving on the board of directors, including a third-generation family member serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors.”
With all that The Viera Company has already achieved, company President Todd J. Pokrywa believes there is still a lot of room for innovation. “While today Viera currently has over 23,500 residents, 10,500 homes, three million square feet of commercial space, and 10,000 jobs across 350 businesses, at buildout the community is projected to be home to over 60,000 residents, up to 31,000 homes, over seven million square feet of commercial space, and over 25,000 jobs across 600 businesses,” says Pokrywa, who wrote his thesis on Viera while studying urban and regional planning at the University of Waterloo.
Pokrywa has nurtured an interest in Viera since childhood, when his family traveled from Canada each year to vacation on Florida’s Space Coast. “I was intrigued about the community from the very beginning, given the long-term vision and commitment to stewardship that the family expressed when unveiling and pursuing the vision for Viera. From early on in the development, the community has enhanced the quality of life for its residents and provided an environment for businesses to be successful,” he says.
Given that he’s been with the company for a quarter of a century, C. Scott Miller has a unique perspective on Viera’s growth over the years.
“I suspect that the three seniors likely did not envision that their Cocoa Ranch would transform to the major master-planned community that is Viera today, but I am equally confident that they would be proud of the fact that the project has been successfully built with attention to detail and an overarching sense of ethical stewardship,” Miller says. “I find it humbling when I look back at the boldness that the third-generation family leadership took in electing to develop a master planned community over an enormous parcel of land. Viera means ‘faith’ in Slovak, the native tongue of Andrew Duda, and the success of Viera lies on the back of the same foundation of faith and hard-working perseverance that the three seniors and their father exhibited in starting the company in the early 1900s.”
Logan Homes: Like Father, Like Son
In 1986, Logan Homes built its first luxury home on the southeastern North Carolina coast. The seeds that gave rise to the company were planted three years before, though, when president and owner D. Logan, Sr. was still a teenager. “My dad kicked me out of the house when I was 16, which led to a career digging ditches,” says D. Logan, Sr. with typical humility. “I worked for a contractor for a while. Then I started Logan Homes when I was 19.” D. Logan was introduced to the world of custom home building by starting first as a carpenter’s helper where he assisted in building some of the finest homes along Wrightsville Beach and Figure Eight Island, after which he turned his dream into a reality and began Logan Homes.
Many 19-year-olds wouldn’t have the savvy to start their own business—much less one that is still thriving 32 years later—but D. Logan, Sr. is the exception. Honesty and integrity along with determination and dedication to excellence have kept the company going. “We did custom building for about 15 years. Then, 15 or 20 years ago, we started developing our own land,” he says.
With a wide range of plans in their portfolio for personalized and move-in-ready homes in both North Carolina and the South Carolina lowcountry, including new master-planned communities in Bluffton, SC, Logan Homes has come a long way since those early days.
“The home you build is only as good as the people who build it,” says D. Logan, Sr. Always trying to improve the building process, he has fostered the same passionate attitude throughout Logan Homes’ nearly 80 employees over two divisions. He has assembled and empowered a team with attention to detail that embraces cutting edge technologies to create homes and communities at competitive prices. He is quick to share the accolades of his success with his team who helped propel Logan Homes to its success, including Vice President, PJ Kelly, who has worked for Logan for over 23 years, and CFO, Patrick Lennon, who arrived in 2010 with a wealth of construction accounting expertise.
The founder’s son, D. Logan, Jr., now the company’s sales and marketing director, also followed an entrepreneurial path, Logan, Sr. says, “My son was a salesman from early on. When he graduated from high school, he came to me and said, ‘I don’t want to go to college with my sister … I want to join Logan Homes.’” Remembering his own beginnings, he decided to give Logan, Jr. a try. “He’d started out at an early age—13 or 14—working on job sites during the summer. When he was 16 or 17, he started out as an assistant superintendent. I put him in sales three to four years ago, and now he’s the sales manager. He’s an incredible entrepreneur,” Logan, Sr. says.
Logan, Sr.’s daughter, Mary Catherine Santos, also works for Logan Homes in pre-construction operations. “She is incredibly efficient in ways that I never was, and very good with permitting. She is excellent with the nitty-gritty details and working with municipalities,” Logan, Sr. says.
“My dad is extremely driven and extremely passionate,” Logan, Jr. adds. “D. Logan is no slouch. Yes, he’s built a successful $100 million a year company, but he’s in the details daily. He knows every single in and out of every single warm body in this office. It’s very rare for the president of the company to still be that intimately involved. It’s not that he’s scared—it’s that he loves it. He’s itching to be in every single detail.”
Logan, Sr. agrees. “I love what I do.”
On Top of the World: The Colen Family’s Legacy
In 1947, the late entrepreneur Sidney Colen founded On Top of the World Communities, Florida’s oldest privately-owned land developer. “As a child of the Great Depression, he wanted to build a good, secure life for his family. Development and building also fulfilled his own very entrepreneurial drive. (It was) a perfect match-up,” says Colen’s son Kenneth, who has served as president of On Top of the World since 1981.
Sidney Colen’s vision was to create “a community of great scale that would not only support expansive amenities, but would also support an arts and education component. He understood that the arts are the highest and most noble expression of human creativity,” Kenneth Colen says.
Even the greatest visionaries need to start somewhere, and Kenneth’s father “literally built his first home and sold it (to the chagrin of his in-laws, who thought he should move into it with his new bride and start a family).”
After years of quality homebuilding and development, in late 1975 Sidney Colen purchased 12,500 acres of land in Ocala, FL, based on a handshake deal, with the details written on the back of an envelope—and the company’s flagship retirement community was born. Today, On Top of the World’s Ocala community offers a stellar range of amenities, continues to fulfill its mission to protect the environment through conservation easements as well as partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and builds eco-conscious “Water Wise” homes and yards. The community also features Circle Square Cultural Center, The Ranch Fitness Center and Spa, a farmer’s market, and a range of retail outlets.
On Top of the World operates a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational foundation, Master The Possibilities, which “offers residents (and non-residents) the opportunity to continue to expand their educational discovery horizons, to develop skills in a range of arts, by active participation. It’s one thing to be passively entertained, and entirely another to be actively engaged as a creator,” company president Kenneth Colen says, echoing his father’s passion for arts and education. “There is a great give and take, a sharing of ideas and dialogue that can be very engaging. Participants take an active role in determining class offerings. If there is interest in a topic, MTP will make it happen.”
This resident-driven approach is also visible in On Top of the World’s “maker space,” home to a woodworking and metals shop, as well as their R/C Flying Field, another resident-led initiative. “We have the land, they have the interest, and it’s a beautiful marriage of the two. With over 140 R/C club members, the original concept of an airfield continues to evolve, and now includes a drone obstacle course as well as a radio-controlled car track,” says Colen, whose sister Leslee plays an active role in community management at the company’s Clearwater, FL, location. The siblings’ cousin, Robert Colen, serves as On Top of the World’s Director of Warranty Services in Ocala.
Under the next generation’s leadership, On Top of the World continues to offer thoughtfully-designed, energy-efficient homes in welcoming, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Starting in late 2019, the company plans to return to its roots, with a new single-family housing development featuring green space and an extensive trail system.
“Home building and development are noble professions,” Kenneth Colen says of carrying forward his father’s legacy. “When done right, they have tremendous power to influence people’s lives for good and for many years.”
There is something magical about watching a tiny turtle emerge from its egg and wobble, awkward but determined, toward the sea. Add in the fact that baby sea turtles use the light of the moon to navigate toward the water, and you’ve got a truly mystical experience—except for all of the hazards that these pint-sized reptiles must confront along the way. Enter: sea turtle conservation.
Noble’s Pond, a master-planned active adult community just outside of Dover, DE, offers its residents “more fun per square inch than anywhere you’ve ever lived”—and they just might be right. Lifestyle Director Colleen Ostafy, who has been a part of Noble’s Pond since 2008, before the first home in the community was built, recently took home the National Association of Homebuilders’ silver award. As creative as she is energetic, Colleen is the beating heart of Noble’s Pond’s vibrant social scene.
“With the 55+ community, it’s nice to have a lifestyle director. I organize all of their trips, events, and everything they do in the clubhouse,” Colleen says. “When I’m throwing a party or organizing trips, I invite everyone. It’s true community involvement.”
Colleen holds public dinners where new residents at Noble’s Pond get to know everyone. On the second Wednesday of every month, she also hosts Coffee with Colleen—a gathering of 100-150 people. “They share ideas, and I tell them what’s going on, what trips are coming up. This year, we went to Alaska. We have an African safari that we’re doing in August. In September, we’re taking a bus trip up to Cape Cod,” she says. “We just went to see a minor league baseball team, ate hot dogs, and saw fireworks afterward. I’m like the travel agent of the community.”
Colleen has introduced residents to riverboat cruises to give them a different take on the cruising experience. Next year, they will travel to the Smoky Mountains, Tuscany, and the Amalfi coast. “The nice part about it is that all you have to do is pack your bags and go to the clubhouse. I take it from there,” says Colleen, who enjoys trips alongside the residents, making herself available to take care of any concerns that might arise—from logistics to healthcare emergencies. “I make residents happy,” she says. “They’ve worked all their lives, taken care of people. Now it’s their time to enjoy life.”
Being the lifestyle director for an active 55+ community has its advantages. “I had it on my bucket list to go to the tulip festival in Germany. So I got together in a room of 100 of my best friends and brought it up. Close to 50 people went to Germany with me,” Colleen says.
Noble’s Pond residents also have a tremendous amount to do close to home. “People who come to Noble’s Pond or even look at our website are like, ‘This is just so amazing’,” Colleen says. “If people are moving in from out of state, they don’t know each other. The clubhouse is our grounding point. They can meet their neighbors, and meet other people who have something in common with them. We can show you how to play pickleball and bocce. We have a community garden.”
While Colleen is a treasure trove of ideas for activities, she is also open to residents’ input. “I’ve had suggestions for a little bit of everything. I’m never going to say no to you,” she says. “I come up with some really crazy things sometimes. We have a group of residents—we call them ambassadors. If we have an open house, they’ll come and talk to prospective people coming into the community.”
Colleen considers herself adventurous, but not as much as one of the residents who she accompanied on a trip to Niagara Falls. “One of the ladies wanted to zipline over the Falls. And she’s in her 80s!” Colleen says. “She’s my little daredevil. We went to Las Vegas…she wanted to zipline there, too.”
The residents of Noble’s Pond are also committed to giving back to their community. “We do a lot of charity events. Girls’ Night Out to Fight MS has raised over $92,000 in the past six years. It’s amazing how residents come together,” she says.
For Colleen, the greatest satisfaction lies in making her residents happy. “People realize that you can really retire and have the good life. One gentleman said to me, ‘I feel like I’m on vacation.’ Another said, ‘I just have to pinch myself every day to think that I can actually have this life and enjoy it as much as I am,’” she says. “I love what I do. I want to make it fun and entertaining. When we go on these trips, they bring their bags up, we take it from there—and they’re on their adventure!”
Keowee Key isn’t your typical community—and it doesn’t attract typical folks.
Located on a gorgeous lake in the South Carolina foothills, 45-year-old Keowee Key has many of the amenities you’d associate with a master-planned community: boating, a George Cobb-designed championship golf course, walking trails, tennis, pickleball, a pool, parks, and beaches. But, instead of being operated by a development company, Keowee Key is member-owned and governed. It’s a nonprofit organization, a municipality with 3,500 residents and its own water and sewer system. A seven-person elected board of directors oversees the community, and residents vote on how they’d like to see Keowee Key change and grow.
With so many opportunities for involvement, it’s no surprise that Keowee Key is home to phenomenal leaders, whose skills have proven invaluable. From strategic planning to fiscal stewardship, fire mitigation to facility renovation, the residents at Keowee Key—many of whom are retirees—play a vital role in shaping their community.
Strategic Planning Takes Center Stage
Margaret Eldridge, Keowee Key’s board president, has lived in the community for 12 years. Before retiring 20 years ago, she had a robust banking career. “I spent time managing the bank’s investment portfolio as well as running the loan administration area. I was also chairman of a state agency that provided financing for low-income housing and economic development activities. A combination of those things helped me understand the most appropriate mechanisms for financing big projects,” says Eldridge, who was also president of consumer banking for a statewide holding company and chairman of a bank.
Keowee Key’s board is proactive when it comes to strategic planning. “Five years ago, we identified the current trends for communities like ours and determined that we needed to renovate our clubhouse, fitness center, and golf course, and add walking trails through the community. We also had to upgrade our IT systems and one of our community pool facilities. Once we put a pencil to it, we had 14 million dollars of investment we needed to do,” Eldridge says. “From a business perspective, we had to create the plan to get that done, a financing plan, the oversight structure to accomplish all of those things in a manner that met our members’ expectations and was concluded on time and on budget … One of my roles was to create the (funding) plan and obtain community support for it.”
Members’ commitment to community improvement as well as their willingness to lead through volunteerism sets Keowee Key apart. “The kind of people who are attracted to being here are folks who have a heart for service. Our county administrator once said they’d have to have 40 more employees in the county to offset all of our volunteer efforts,” Eldridge says.
When she’s not engaged in board leadership, Eldridge is a volunteer instructor at Clemson in the Women’s Leadership Program. “I believe people need to have a purpose,” she says. “I really love my teaching because it gives me an opportunity to help young women and give them some information that gives them a leg up when they go to work.”
Sharing Safety Skills
Keowee Key resident Russ Landis also embraces leadership in retirement. He leads the community’s chapter of the National Fire Protection Association’s FIREWISE program, a U.S.-wide initiative in which community volunteers promote fire safety. An engineer by trade,
Landis worked for 40 years in the manufacturing industry, predominantly with heavy manufacturing, nuclear fuel, and power generation equipment. Eight years ago, Landis retired and moved with his wife from Pittsburgh to Keowee Key, located centrally to the homes of the couple’s four children. As a consultant, Landis spent most of his time on the road. He was looking forward to staying in one place long enough to give back.
Promoting fire safety in an urban woodland interface like Keowee Key is a vital job. “It’s very wooded, and we like to keep it that way. But the risks from wildfire are relatively high because of the density of the forest, so we have to work hard to keep it safe,” Landis says. “One of the ways we help reduce the risk of wildfire is to encourage homeowners to keep their property cleaned up by picking up dead branches and plants and recycling those through chipping activities. We run five of these chipping days a year. Residents who have a quarter-acre lot will gather up twigs, sticks, and vegetation and bring that up to the curb. On chipping day, we dispatch volunteers in pickup trucks to run around and pick stuff up.” The National Fire Protection Agency took note of Keowee Key’s large-scale risk reduction program and filmed the process, showcasing the community as a stellar example of FIREWISE.
Board director David Rosamond is the engineering project manager for the club and bistro remodel projects. An engineer whose career focused on project and construction management, Rosamond worked on the planning and development of projects all over the world until retiring in 2008 and moving to Keowee Key from Moscow.
When the community began considering major renovations and upgrading, it was only natural for Rosamond to get involved. “With my knowledge and background in engineering and construction, I was naturally assigned the responsibility for overseeing everything from contractors to architects. I used all of my skill set I had acquired after 40 years in the business; particularly in the initial phases, my wife said, ‘You spent more time on this project than the ones you used to get paid for.’ But, it was a labor of love.”
Fitness Project Renovation Team Chair Jon Goyert concurs. “I’m surprised sometimes about the number of people who volunteer. It’s very encouraging! I’ve got to think that goes back to people not wanting to sit around, continuing to want to contribute. There are all kinds of opportunities to do what they like to do.”
Along with his wife, Goyert, who has a PhD in Marine Science, worked for many years in the field of environmental analysis, running an office in Florida. While in Florida, the couple volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. They have continued their involvement with Habitat after their move to Keowee Key. Next year John Goyert will serve as president of the local affiliate, and his wife Karen will serve as secretary.
“The type of people we have (at Keowee), they’re all relatively young retirees. They came from a world of working. No one wants to just sit down and watch TV. We want to do stuff … It keeps you active and your mind sharp. I can’t imagine sitting around all day. I’d be bored to tears,” Jon Goyert says.
As Chair of the Fitness Project Renovation Team, Jon Goyert was in charge of the Fitness and Racquet Center renovation, including working with an architectural firm, gathering resident feedback, and seeing the project through. The opening ceremony was held in October 2018, and about 350 people attended. “We came in ahead of schedule and under budget. I think it turned out really well,” Goyert says.
A Walking Trail Partnership
Bill and Lenore Malin are committed to fitness through a different lens—establishing a roadside trails program at Keowee Key. The two ran a commercial building company together until 2005. “We did a lot of embassy work, a lot of restaurant work, just a very varied construction enterprise. Lenore handled the administrative piece and the office, I handled the rest of the ballgame. We worked as a team,” Bill says.
For almost five years, the Malins pushed to get the ROADS and Southside Walking Trail Project program off the ground. When financial support came to fruition, the two got to work as co-chairs, along with a supportive team.
“The community response to the walking trails has been really positive,” Bill says, adding that older residents in particular have benefited from the trails’ accessibility. “The use of the trail is far in excess of what we expected. There are a lot of dog walkers; it’s really crowded.”
In addition to their involvement with the roadside trails program, Bill and Lenore have hobbies of their own. “When I came down here, Bill bought lessons with a local potter for me as a Christmas gift. Now I have my own studio with a kiln and spray set-up for glazing. We do one or two sales a year within Keowee Key. I do the pottery, and Bill makes beautiful wooden trays,” Lenore says. “We love this community, and we’re very happy to be able to contribute something lasting to it. It raises our spirits and makes us smile every time we go out and see someone on the trail.”