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On the Drawing Boards - Thoroughbred Links, a Destination
 Resort with Golf Courses, Lodge, Condominiums and Homes
 Near Columbia, South Carolina

By Kristy Eppley Rupon, The State, Columbia, S.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Oct. 29, 2004 - Developers are planning a 2,500-home golf and residential community in West Wateree, which, if approved, would make it among the largest in Kershaw County and the fast-growing Northeast Richland area.

Officials hope a 27-hole golf course planned for the subdivision, on a 1,143-acre site on Whiting Way between Lugoff and Elgin, could help draw tourists and spur more commercial development in West Wateree.

Robert Farnsworth, a project developer with Southwinds Group LLC, said Thursday he did not want to speak publicly about plans he called "very preliminary." But a design proposal for the community has been submitted to the Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority for discussion next week.

Mike Hancock, water authority manager, said he will present the plan from Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung of Mount Pleasant to the board Nov. 4. It was submitted, Farnsworth said, to obtain cost and time projections for getting water service to the site.

The community, dubbed "Thoroughbred Links," according to plans at the water authority, would back up to the Haigs Creek and Haigs Ridge subdivisions, bounded by Green Hill Road on one side and Whiting Way on the other. The development, on a site just slightly smaller than Sesquicentennial State Park, would include the golf course, single-family homes, condominiums, clubhouse and lodge.

Farnsworth, in an earlier conversation Wednesday, said developers have lined up a corporate sponsor for the golf course, though he declined to give a name. No other Midlands courses have corporate sponsors.

"This would not only be a nice place to live," Hancock said, "but it would be a destination." Complete plans for the community likely would be submitted to Kershaw County's Planning and Zoning Department within 30 days, Farnsworth said Wednesday. The subdivision site would need approval from Kershaw County Council for zoning as a Planned Unit Development.

If the project is approved, Hancock estimated developers could break ground by this time next year. But he said it could take close to a decade to complete such a project.

Farnsworth was part of a group in the late 1990s that proposed a similar golf community on the other end of Kershaw County, off I-20's Exit 101 interchange. That project never materialized.

When told details of the proposed development Thursday, Kershaw County Councilman John Wells said they were "not inconsistent" with what he has heard about it. He added that this project appears to be different from the Exit 101 project.

"I think they've got more (financial) backing than what they had before," said Wells, who represents the Elgin area.

Hancock said he is cautiously optimistic about the project, which could have a major economic impact on West Wateree's commercial development.

"These people are going to have to eat. They'll need to buy groceries somewhere," Hancock said. "I just see it as a boon for the West Wateree area." The area around the proposed development, just a few miles from the Richland County line, is largely undeveloped.

But Kershaw County officials have been hoping that sewer lines being installed near Elgin would bring commercial development to the area.

Those lines are within three-quarters of a mile of the proposed residential community.

Wells, who lives in Haigs Creek, agreed that a community on this scale would bring restaurants, hotels and other businesses that county officials have been hoping for in West Wateree.

"It will, I think, sort of change the image of the West Wateree area forever," Wells said.

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