Island Vibes April 2024

24 In 1980, George Fazio’s nephew, Tom, designed his first golf course, the Wild Dunes Links Course. Almost immediately, the nation’s major golf magazines heralded it as one of the top 30 courses in the world. A year later, the Wild Dunes Ocean Course brought so much fame to Finch’s property that he renamed the club the Wild Dunes Beach and Racquet Club. “WE’LL MAINTAIN EXCLUSIVITY” In early March 1984, longtime Wild Dunes home developer David H. Lucas, attorney James Boyd and other businessmen purchased the resort from the Finch family for nearly $28 million in partnership interests and close to another $15 million in stock. That September, new Wild Dunes Associates Chief Executive Officer and President Noel D. Thorn explained the company’s plans for the remainder of the resort’s development, which Lucas estimated as only 45 percent complete: “We’ll maintain exclusivity,” the 37-yearold Thorn announced, “but that’s the From Page 23 nature of our company. At the same time, we want to do things to make us good citizens of the Isle of Palms.” Under Thorn’s leadership, Wild Dunes enjoyed record sales while also contributing to the Isle of Palms community. In 1988, for instance, when IOP Mayor Carmen Bunch needed to replace the city’s rescue boat, Thorn agreed to purchase a boat and lease it to the city for a dollar a year. The Finch family wasn’t done with Wild Dunes. Henry’s oldest son, Henry Jr., turned his attention to expanding the Isle of Palms Marina. Renaming the facility the Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor, Finch promised “a resort marina for the person willing to pay more.” Eventually, the harbor’s amenities Marge Sexton and Georgiana Young stand on the porch of Edgar’s Restaurant during the summer of 1981 would include the Tradewinds Restaurant – today’s Islander 71. By 1990, Wild Dunes Associates was largely finished with Wild Dunes, having turned its attention to the new Dunes West development in Mount Pleasant. Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises took over management – and, eventually, ownership – of Wild Dunes through its subsidiary, Destination Hotels and Resorts. A few years later, they purchased the Links Golf Course for $8.2 million. In 1999, the City of Isle of Palms bought the Wild Dunes Yacht Harbor from the Finch family and changed the name of the much-improved facility back to the Isle of Palms Marina. Clearly, the Wild Dunes Resort of today is a far cry from the community of “permanent residents” that Henry Finch described to his neighbors. Instead, it’s estimated that fewer than 25 percent of the resort’s units are primary residences for year-round owners. Roughly 30 percent of its houses and condos are part-time vacation homes, and around 45 percent are rental units. HISTORY