By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
While attorneys discuss whether a West Coast-based company will be able to continue to sell fractional ownerships in a luxury home on Sullivan’s Island, a soonto-be SI resident has launched a grassroots campaign aimed at maintaining the island’s longtime residential character.
“We’ve had our attorneys involved for some time now,” Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil commented. “Because they don’t see anything happening, people think nothing is happening.”
“It’s a pretty complicated issue. The Supreme Court says you can regulate use but not ownership. So that’s what they’re looking at,” Town Administrator Andy Benke added. Pacaso, which has expanded from its California roots to at least seven other states, including South Carolina, purchased the house at 3115 Ion on Sullivan’s Island in April from Lucas Morrison and already has sold as many as three one-eighth ownerships in the home. “We don’t discuss specifics for competitive reasons, but I can confirm that the home has owners,” Brian McGuigan, the company’s director of corporate communications, said in an email. “As a reminder, owners are able to purchase multiple shares.” Meanwhile, Katy Anderson is determined to do what she can to keep Pacaso from establishing a foothold on an island that outlawed short-term rentals – except for those that were grandfathered in – more than two decades ago. Currently living in Mount Pleasant, she and her husband, Tim Emrich, purchased a lot on Marshall Boulevard last year that is adjacent to the Pacaso house.
They plan to begin construction soon on a permanent home for themselves and their three young sons. Anderson sent an email to approximately three dozen Sullivan’s Island residents on Aug. 21, encouraging them to voice their opinions about Pacaso at Town Council meetings, put up the yard signs she is distributing and contact the Cassina Real Estate Group, which Pacaso hired to sell fractional ownerships in the house. “Like you, we were surprised, confused and very disappointed when we learned that Pacaso purchased this property and what they plan to do with it,” her email said.
“We are relieved to know that there are many others in the community that share our strong opposition to this scheme. While the town of Sullivan’s Island is not in favor of what is happening and is actively looking into ways to stop it, it is imperative that we as residents continue to voice our concerns and let our opposition be known to the town, our neighbors, Pacaso/ Cassina and to potential timeshare owners.” She said that within just over a week, around 50 local residents had responded to her email. She and Emrich distributed all the “Stop Pacaso” signs they had and ordered another batch of 50 to give to their growing number of supporters. “The messages we’ve received from neighbors and residents of the community are consistent and clear: Fractional ownership and timeshare business schemes have no place in our single family residential community,” she said. “Over two dozen communities across the United States, from Hawaii to California to Utah to South Carolina, have organized grassroots efforts to protect and preserve their residential neighborhoods by supporting and encouraging their towns to enforce residential and business zoning laws,” she added. “Our group aims to do the same in order to protect the unique fabric and integrity of the island and its quiet, family friendly residential neighborhoods.” The home at 3115 Ion was listed on July 18 by Tim Schneider of the Cassina Group. However, the Cassina sign in front of the house came down some time between Aug. 24 and Aug. 26. On the 26th, Owen Tyler, managing broker, broker in charge and partner, stated only that “The listing has expired, and The Cassina Group is not listing the property.”
“The 45-day listing expired, and we are relisting it ourselves,” McGuigan said. “If Tim has interested buyers, he’ll bring them to us. As for the community, we are actively meeting with leaders to answer questions about co-ownership and help them understand how it can benefit Sullivan’s Island.” Two people representing Pacaso – Public Affairs Manager Sarah Filosa and John Carroll, a partner in the law firm of Burr Forman – spoke at a meeting of the Town Council’s Land Use and Natural Resources Committee July 13. However, at least four members of the Council – O’Neil, Scott Millimet, Bachman Smith and Gary Visser – denied that Pacaso was “actively meeting with leaders to answer questions about co-ownership.” “I know of absolutely no meetings which they attended or initiated, beyond the one meeting,” Visser said.
“They sent representatives to the meeting of our Land Use and Natural Resources Committee one to two months ago. I am a member of that committee but have had no contact from them other than that meeting,” O’Neil added. While the attorneys representing the town of Sullivan’s Island and Pacaso continue to guide the situation through the slow-moving legal system, Anderson will carry on with her fight to keep Pacaso off the island.
“If this scheme is allowed to move forward, it’s likely Pacaso and their competitors will quickly extend their footprint across the island, irretrievably unraveling and dismantling the unique fabric that is Sullivan’s Island,” she concluded. Pacaso’s website currently is listing the fivebedroom, 6.5-bath, 4,331-square-foot home at 3115 Ion at $902,000 for one of eight shares. The company is selling shares of four other South Carolina homes: one each in Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island and two in Hilton Head.
According to Zillow, the house on Sullivan’s Island was listed for sale in January 2021 for $4,499,000 and in May 2021 for $5,899,000. It was briefly listed for rent in January 2022 for $28,000 a month, then for sale at $5,980,000 – which is what Pacaso paid for the home, according to McGuigan.