Island Pioneers Establish Dream Home In Daniel Island Park
For Gene Chang, it came down to a hunch. That’s what led the newly-married physician to explore Daniel Island some 15 years ago, just as an exciting new master planned community was beginning to take shape.
He was looking for a place to settle down with his wife, Toya Pound, also a physician, and start a family. Both had recently completed their training at the Medical University of South Carolina in downtown Charleston. Even though there were just two neighborhoods here on Daniel Island in 1998 when Gene first came to visit, and no exit off Interstate 526 to the island, the promise of what was to come beckoned the young couple.
“When we got married, we were both living downtown and working downtown,” said Gene, who specializes in maternal fetal medicine. “We just couldn’t find a house that would suit our needs…So I showed up here on a whim…I like the idea of a planned community. We just took a chance!”
“I just really thought I wanted to be downtown,” added Toya. “I love that whole feel and I like to run, so I was very skeptical about leaving that area…But then I fell in love with Daniel Island. It’s just beautiful!”
The couple found the perfect starter house on Shipwright Street in the Codner’s Ferry Park neighborhood.
“There were already a lot of people here,” recalled Toya, an obstetrician and gynecologist who now serves as medical director of a women’s health practice in nearby Mount Pleasant. “We were definitely not the first!” But there was still a lot of undeveloped land at the time. “Behind us, all the way to the water was woods,” she added.
Soon that wooded area would be dotted with lovely, Lowcountry-style homes along what is now Beresford Creek Street, where many residents enjoy waterfront access to Beresford Creek, Charleston Harbor and beyond. Inviting parks and miles of walking trails continued to sprout in the new community. A grocery store and other new retailers opened in the island’s “downtown” area, schools were established, and restaurants and service providers set up shop. Toya and Gene knew they were here to stay.
“It’s a town,” said Gene. “It’s small and it’s comfortable and we have most of what we need here, which is really nice.”
Daniel Island’s central location in the Charleston region also made it very convenient to get to other places with relative ease, particularly the airport.
“If you pick somebody up at the airport, they can call you when they land and you can be there before they get their baggage,” commented Toya. “That part is great!”
After their first child, Anna Grace, was born in 2000, Gene and Toya knew it was time to expand their home to accommodate their growing family. They purchased a larger house around the corner and continued to enjoy all that their island town had to offer. After the arrival of their son, Ellis, they decided to make yet another investment in the community. They built their dream home in Daniel Island Park, the island’s esteemed country club neighborhood. Located just across the street from a charming park created in honor of the island’s cattle ranching days, Gene and Toya’s stunning and stately property reflects the architectural touches and courtyard gardens of their beloved, historic Charleston.
Today, the Chang-Pound family remains actively engaged in their community, whether it’s supporting Anna Grace and her friends at the school talent show, enjoying a drum circle at the annual Pumpkin Walk, or catching a concert at the local Family Circle Tennis Center stadium. For Toya, it’s exactly the close-knit community-feel they were hoping they’d find on Daniel Island.
“We go to school with the neighbors, we go out to dinner and run into neighbors…I do feel like it’s living in a small town,” she said.
With their two children in tow, Toya and Gene can often be spotted biking around the island, cooling off at the Daniel Island Club pool, or grabbing an ice cream cone at the island’s frozen treat shop, Hokey Pokey. When it comes to offerings for kids, the island scores big points from Anna Grace and Ellis.
“I like that you can get everywhere because it’s all really close together!” said Anna Grace, now age 12.
For Ellis, having kids his age nearby makes playing flashlight tag in the park and engaging in other neighborhood adventures all the more fun.
“I think it’s easier to give the kids freedoms because you do feel like you know a lot of people,” said Toya. “And it’s safe, so you feel like I did growing up…that you can be out riding your bikes and play for several hours and then come in when it’s dark!”
Life on Daniel Island is everything Gene and Toya imagined it would be and more. For the Chang-Pound family, what started as a hunch has certainly turned into “home sweet home.”