If it’s Friday, then it’s time for Lucas Anthony to feed the chickens. The Riverstead community in Pickens County has 30 chickens producing around two dozen eggs a day, and residents involved in the neighborhood’s agricultural efforts take turns feeding the flock and gathering the eggs for sale. Those volunteers include Anthony, developer of this natural enclave on the South Saluda River 15 miles from downtown Greenville.
“It’s nice. I get to go in there and talk to the ladies, and tell them I appreciate it,” Anthony said. “The community sells its eggs to the residents, so it’s not like we’re really saving any money. But you are getting a better product.”
A better product, from a lifestyle standpoint, was what Anthony was looking for when he started the Riverstead project in 2017, carving out 53 homesites on generous lots ranging from 2.8 to 5 acres, with views ranging from the Saluda River to the Blue Ridge Mountains. His vision, which instead of a golf course and tennis courts would have orchards and vineyards, began to come together right as the pandemic hit—leaving many people to eschew big cities for places where they could have more land, more space, and a better quality of life.
“I had a three-year sellout plan for Riverstead,” Anthony said, “and we sold it out in like 13 months. The pandemic rattled everybody, and it made people rethink their lives and what’s important. Being outdoors, being in nature, getting your hands dirty and having your own food source was something people were looking for.”
37 homes, 75 blueberry bushes
Today, homes have been constructed on 37 sites in Riverstead, where some of the remaining lots have resold for 30 percent more than the original buyers purchased them for. The community is utilizing seven of its 15 acres of designated farmland, which is producing “more than we can eat,” Anthony said. Riverstead farm manager Phill Mathis, of the Greenville nonprofit Mill Village Farm, sells the rest to local restaurants.
Elsewhere, “we probably have 75 blueberry bushes planted in three different patches that we’re getting ready to harvest,” Anthony said. “We also have probably 60 Muscadine vines that produce every September, so we we’ll pick those. But what I’ve really enjoyed is watching the community kind of take what we started to the next level. There are wildflowers everywhere. One of the residents just got milkweed seeds, and they’re planting them for butterflies. I mean, you name it. People are just expanding what we’re doing.”
In the Greenville area, Anthony’s last name is synonymous with real estate development—his father Jim built The Cliffs, a string of mountain and lake golf communities dotting the Upstate, and today owned by South Street Partners. Lucas, though, didn’t want to develop another golf course neighborhood. He wanted to build something similar to a community he found while traveling in South America, where residents bartered goods and lived off the land. That trip provided the inspiration for Riverstead, which became one of a handful of similar agricultural communities found in the Southeast.
“I remember coming back on an airplane, and opening up one of those in-flight magazines and seeing an ad for another golf course development,” Anthony said. “I told my wife, you know what somebody needs to do? Somebody needs to start a farm-based community. And I got back and started doing some research.”
Now, not only is Riverstead a reality, it’s also sold out. And with two-thirds of the property protected under a conservation easement, there’s little chance of expansion. So Anthony is already at work on his next outside-the-box project, a little farther south on the Saluda River.
Welcome to Heritage Bend
The property that will become Heritage Bend has a lot in common with Riverstead. Designed to sit on a graceful curve of the Saluda near Powdersville, the site will includes green spaces, picnic areas, trails and gardens, along with a handful of homesites—which Anthony said will be large enough so multiple generations of families can build homes near one another.
Anthony is also involved in Transcend Custom Homes, a company that builds modern, three-bedroom homes between 1,200 and 1,900 square feet that have “everything a family needs, but no wasted space,” he said. “The bedrooms for kids aren’t huge, but we don’t really want the kids spending time in their bedrooms, anyway.” Similarly, he’s involved in a project called McKinney Creek that aims to build cottages inland of Lake Keowee—with a shared pavilion on the lake, giving residents waterfront access without the exorbitant cost.
“I think if we want more people to access Lake Keowee,” Anthony said, “then we’re going to have to look more at this concept of living off the lake but creating a common space down by the water where people can utilize it.”
From Riverstead and Heritage Bend to Transcend Custom Homes and McKinney Creek, Anthony’s project all have a similar theme—one that encourages residents to get outside and take advantage of the natural surroundings, whether that be Lake Keowee, the Saluda River, a Muscadine vineyard, or the foothills north of Easley, where he’s helping his father Jim with a new development called Longview Carolina.
“We like to help each other on projects. But he and I, we don’t need to call shots over the same thing,” Lucas said. “So he handles certain aspects, and I do certain aspects. We both have different talents and abilities. So I’m helping him on that, and he has a couple of things he’s working on. He’s busier than I am.”