I'On, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

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I'On is a mixed-use New Urbanist "Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND)" style community located in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, USA just north of Charleston. I'On was one of the earliest full-time residential new urbanist communities developed in the US.

Location and Origin[edit]

I'On is approximately 3 miles (5 km) east of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, which connects Charleston and Mount Pleasant. It is reached by traveling east from the bridge on Johnnie Dodds Blvd. until a turn to the left is reached on Shelmore Blvd. The roundabout and square which form the community's gateway are about 1,200 feet (370 m) north of the highway on Shelmore Blvd. The GPS coordinates for the square are 32°48.765′N 79°52.760′W / 32.812750°N 79.879333°W / 32.812750; -79.879333. Located adjacent to the I'on Club is East Cooper Montessori Charter School, the first public charter Montessori school in the state.

Concert at Amphitheater in I'On, June 2004

The community was founded and planned under the direction of Vince Graham, who previously established the Newpoint community in Beaufort, South Carolina. Founded on April 30, 1995, I'On was planned as an example of the new urbanism, which includes traditional neighborhood developments. I'On was designed by the town planning firms of Dover, Kohl & Partners and Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company. The community was controversial when proposed and initial plans for a more urban and diverse village of over 1,200 units, including multifamily homes and rented residences were eventually compromised in the planning process to a buildout of approximately 762 single family homes, a village square and locations for civic buildings such as churches and schools. Development plans were delayed by a lengthy legal contest with the Town of Mount Pleasant which ended with the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in the I'On Company's favor.[1]


Features of the community include extensive sidewalks, shared public green spaces, trails and a grid of narrow, traffic calming streets. Most homes are required to have a front porch of not less than eight feet (2.46 m) in depth. Floor heights of 10 feet (3.1 m), raised foundations and smaller lot sizes give the community a dense, vertical feel. Overall density of the neighborhood is about 3.8 units per acre (9.4 units per hectare), however most homes are on lots of 1/10 of an acre (0.04 hectares) or less, with large amounts of the community's area being taken up by parks, trails, lakes, sidewalks and other common areas.

A commercial center called I'On Square serves as the community gateway. The community is connected to surrounding communities by five roads and two pedestrian walkways. Natural features include a wildlife refuge, called the Rookery, several walking trails, two large lakes, several parks. There are approximately five miles of soft surface walking trail within the community and 12 miles (19 km) of sidewalk, making a popular walking area for residents from throughout the surrounding communities. A detailed walking tour of the community, the I'On Village Walk, is available, a guide for which can be downloaded from I'On Community Website.

The community is home to East Cooper Montessori Charter School, one of the first successful Charter Schools in South Carolina. The school enrolls about 250 students in grades 1-8. The school's campus is small and students make use of community playgrounds and green spaces which are within walkable distance.

As of July 2006 the community included approximately 550 occupied homes, and a number of businesses. An episcopal church is in the planning stages and holds monthly tent meetings on its lot on I'On Square. An orthodox church was consecrated on May 24, 2008.[2] The community is goverend by the I'On Assembly, a property owner's association. All members of the board are now elected by residents.

Infrastructure development in the community should be finished by early 2007 with residential construction expected to continue for three years or more after that. The community will ultimately be home to about 1,800 residents, 40 resident businesses, one school with an enrollment of approximately 150 students and two churches.


The community takes its name from Jacob Bond I'On. I'On was the first Mayor of the Town of Sullivan's Island. A monument to I'On erected in the 19th century stands in the Northwest part of the community at the center of a 1-acre (4,000 m2) historic family cemetery which is open to visitors. A historical marker with facts about Jacob Bond I'On's life can be found where the community is entered from a round-a-bout on Mathis Ferry Road.


I'On Biznet the community business association, hosts an annual on the streets Bicycle Race each spring and other community events, including a community Market on I'On Square in October and May. The I'On Trust, [www.theiontrust.org], a community civic and cultural foundation, sponsors concerts, lectures and other programs. The Community of I'On Artists holds classes, presents art shows and coordinates regular workshops. I'Onissimo! is a community musical organization with String, Vocal, Woodwind and Brass Groups.

A low power AM radio station serves the neighoborhood, which also streams to the web through http://www.ionradio1640.com.

Place in New Urbanism[edit]

As one of the early examples of new urbanist traditional neighoborhood development, I'On draws many visitors interested in town planning. Proximity to Mt. Pleasant's historic "Old Village" from which I'On drew many planning elements and world famous downtown Charleston, South Carolina allows planners to experience and compare both the new community and its historic models.

Other new urbanist communities include Seaside and Celebration in Florida and Kentlands, Maryland.


Coordinates: 32°48′49″N 79°52′48″W / 32.813538°N 79.879972°W / 32.813538; -79.879972

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