Sun City Hilton Head
Del Webb's Sun City Hilton Head (often shortened to Sun City Hilton Head or Sun City locally) is an age-restricted master planned community located in the Okatie area of Beaufort and Jasper counties in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. Although not a separate incorporated community or census-designated place, there are close to 10,000 permanent residents within three major phases of the community, which is clustered around its golf courses and community centers. The community is also renowned for its political activism, with many local, state, and national candidates for political office stopping in Sun City while in the area. Sun City is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Sun City Hilton Head is located approximately 12 miles (20 km) west of Hilton Head Island itself and 20 miles (30 km) north of Savannah, Georgia, with close access to Interstate 95. Sun City is positioned across nearly 10,000 acres between the borders of Beaufort and Jasper counties along the major thoroughfares in the area, U.S. Highway 278 and S.C. Highway 170. The majority of the development is in unincorporated Beaufort County, while the Jasper County portions (sometimes referred to as Sun City North) are incorporated into Hardeeville. Addresses in Sun City have either an Okatie or a Bluffton ZIP code, but no portions of the development are within the Bluffton town limits.
Using a similar design template from existing Sun City developments, Del Webb Communities purchased vast real estate holdings from the former Argent Lumber Company in the 1990s and began development of the Beaufort County portions. The majority of the property phases were folded into the "Sun City" development brand, while a phase of development located east of SC 170 was branded as "Riverbend" and featured higher-end homesites near the Okatie River. Nearly all of the Beaufort County portions of Sun City have been built out.
Del Webb Communities was acquired by Pulte Homes in the 2000s and began development of the Jasper County portions that same decade. Hardeeville annexed all of the Jasper County portions of the community in 2007, prior to construction. As of 2012, there were approximately 300 homes constructed along with a new community center, with an additional 300 homesites that were platted. Sun City has the option to construct up to 2,000 homes in the Jasper County portion through its development agreement with Hardeeville.
Neighborhood profile and governance
Sun City is a gated community and is age restricted to adults 55 and over. The majority of the residents are married and retired-full time, though some continue to work full-time or have home-based businesses. The community is overwhelmingly single-family residential homes on smaller lots, though attached housing and assisted living facilities are also in the community. Most of the lots look out over golf course holes, ponds, or natural areas. Many residents travel in the community with golf carts or bicycles. A bridge connects the Beaufort and Jasper county portions of the community over US 278, thus avoiding the need to enter and exit through multiple gates and cross the heavily-traveled highway.
Sun City maintains its own internal and private security force that patrols the neighborhood and some of the gate entrances. Fire services are shared between the Bluffton Township and the Hardeeville fire departments.
Sun City has an internal property owners association (the Community Association) that governs much of the community. Representatives from Del Webb Communities retain positions on the association, which has caused intense debate in the community as far as its independence from the parent company and developer. Efforts to incorporate Sun City as an individual municipality have been attempted before, but South Carolina laws on incorporation have made it a challenging process. Hardeeville and Beaufort Country retain certain regulatory and policing authority over the community, but yield to the Community Association and its bylaws on specific matters.
- three golf courses (two full-length, one executive)
- 20 acre lake (Lake Somerset)
- tennis & pickleball courts
- "town square" with community association