Bobby Harrelson Brings his Magic Touch to Compass Pointe
With the addition of a golf course and on-site restaurant, Bobby Harrelson succeeds yet again at Compass Pointe.
PHOTOGRAPHY by Megan Deitz
Many people played a part in transforming northern Brunswick County from rural farmland to one of the fastest growing communities in the nation, and one of them was Bobby Harrelson.
Since the 1960s Harrelson has developed more than 100 communities and subdivisions in the Wilmington and Leland area and has proven himself as one of the most influential developers in southeastern North Carolina.
Now in his late 70s, Harrelson is showing no signs of slowing down. His latest development, Compass Pointe and its recently added golf course and restaurant, prove that he still has the magic touch.
Harrelson, who was raised on a farm near Loris, S.C., moved to Wilmington in 1960 and began working in construction. After serving in the Army from 1962 to 1964, he returned to construction and found much success in Wilmington-area homebuilding, always proving an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time.
In the 1990s, Harrelson looked across the bridge from Wilmington and saw what Leland could be. He took a chance on Leland first with Magnolia Greens, then with Waterford and later with Compass Pointe, and all three of the communities have played a part in making northern Brunswick County of the most desirable places to live in the region.
Compass Pointe consists of more than 500 homes and a population of more than 1,000. New homes are constructed at a rate of 100 per year and range in size from 1,500 to 3,500 square feet. New neighborhoods being designed within the development include Pointe Club Cabanas, an age-qualified active adult neighborhood providing maintenance-free living, and Osprey Village, 120 units providing in-home medical care and assistance.
Premier amenities contribute to Harrelson’s vision for Compass Pointe, which is that residents feel like they are on vacation every day. Compass Pointe boasts a 10,000-square-foot grand lanai, a centerpiece of the development, featuring a fireplace, lounge, tv screening area, dual bars and retractable walls allowing for an indoor/outdoor experience. The lanai hosts regular wine tastings, beer tastings, themed parties and karaoke. Just beyond the doors of the lanai is the ample Resort Oasis Pool. Compass Pointe also offers a state-of-the-art, 7,000-square-foot wellness center and spa, providing yoga, Pilates and spinning classes in addition to massage, Reiki healing, a sauna and steam rooms.
In keeping with the Harrelson’s commitment to maintain a natural environment (he spends $10,000 a month landscaping), Compass Pointe is recognized by the National Audubon Society as an Audubon International Gold Signature Community with more than 70 acres preserved as a nature sanctuary. An additional 800 acres spanning the area’s Hood Creek have just been committed.
Harrelson’s latest project has been the addition of an 18-hole golf course to the list of amenities at Compass Pointe. The championship-quality course offers some of the highest elevations in the region, and the 18th hole, at 80 feet above sea level, commands the highest elevation in Brunswick County.
Locals spent the summer breaking in the new course in, to rave reviews.
“It’s almost unheard of to have this many rounds played at a new golf course,” Harrelson says. “I’m pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm of both residents and locals.”
The environmentally friendly, semi-private course boasts wide hybrid Bermuda fairways, corridors and large undulating hybrid Bermuda Champion greens. Other features include a lighted putting green, an expansive and professional-caliber driving range, a short-game practice area, an 18-hole putting course and a full-service pro shop, each located adjacent to the Member’s patio and social area and soon-to-be constructed premier Member’s Clubhouse.
The new course was planned with playability and sustainability in mind by international golf course designer Rick Robbins. In fitting with Compass Pointe’s dedication to preserving the natural surroundings, the back nine of the golf course exists mostly in nature.
The golf course is accompanied by Compass Pointe’s new Latitudes Restaurant. The eatery promises cuisine it calls “Flaribbean,” a hybrid of Florida and Caribbean cuisine. Latitudes serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and the beverage selection includes a citrusy, hoppy beer brewed specifically for Compass Pointe and the popular Compass Pointe Mai Tai.
With the golf course completion, Compass Pointe has made good on the majority of the amenities promised when the 2,200-acre development launched.
“We’re in our glory days,” says Amanda Marks, director of sales and marketing for Compass Pointe, referring to the fact that most amenities have been realized. “We’re still a new community because our amenities are new.” And, she points out, the development is financially healthy and completely debt free.
In addition to a vast network of connectivity trails and various recreation areas, Compass Pointe boasts an outdoor amphitheater at the edge of a 5-acre lake. Amenities still on tap include a 30-acre lake, an indoor pool, a lazy river and a community commercial center.
“We’re always new and exciting,” Marks says. “But my favorite part is the way that it is a community. That’s the one thing that sets us apart. You can’t replicate the sense of community and the neighborly attitude that our people have.”
In the end, it all comes back to a visionary developer. Whether building houses, commercial centers, golf courses or restaurants, Harrelson works with passion for doing it right.
“I always followed my passion,” he says. “I’ve always done what I love and I’ve always been happy with what I’ve had. The success followed suit. I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like work. I enjoy it too much to call it work.”