History of Tega Cay


Its Location

The City of Tega Cay, South Carolina is located on a peninsula in Lake Wylie, twenty miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina and only three miles west of I-77. The approximately three-square-mile city has 16 miles of shoreline with a very rugged topography that remains relatively well covered with hardwoods and tall pines.

The Charlotte Douglas International Airport is only twenty minutes away. All this combine allowing for easy access to employment, travel, entertainment, and cultural enlightenment. As an added bonus, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the South Carolina coastline are less than a 3-hour drive.

History of Tega Cay

One of the most important developments in 20th century York County was the construction of Catawba Dam and Power Plant. In 1899, William C. Whitner  founded the Catawba Power Company along with Dr. Gill Wylie and his brother Robert Wylie. Construction on the dam began in 1900 and took nearly four years to complete. Periodic flooding, terrain and the scale of the project made progress painfully slow. Upon their completion, the dam and power plant combined as to act as one of the most important engineering accomplishments in the southeastern United States during that period.

The initiative would  ultimately result in the establishment of the Duke Power Company. Duke Power has developed a number of dams and hydroelectric facilities on the Catawba River in both North and South Carolina, over the years, and continues to grow its presence in the energy market. In fact, Lake Wylie’s importance to the region has expanded over the years. It now also supports both the Allen Steam Station and Catawba Nuclear Station with cooling water while acting as a dependable water supply for Rock Hill and Belmont, critical to viability of each towns development.

The original dam was rebuilt in 1924 and the lake's actual surface expanded with the additional height. The shoreline increase to approximately 325 miles as a result at Lake Wylie’s full pond elevation. [which is approximately 570.0 feet above sea level] This additional flooding of the undulating terrain surrounding the Catawba river north of the dam, gave birth to the prime lakefront now known as Tega Cay.

In 1970, the peninsula which had been created on the east side of the lake was determined to be a perfect location for a recreational community. In that same year, the Ervin Company purchased the property from Duke Power’s real estate arm know as Crescent Realty. The community was to be presented as a serene vacation retreat in which you could live 365 days a year!

The name “Tega Cay” was given to the development. This name was a derivation of a Polynesian phrase that means “Beautiful Penninsula”. The street names, guard shack and early architecture reflected this theme in the early stages of development. The  original Tega Cay homeowners received many services for a minimal HOA fee adding to the vacation-like setting. A Property Owners Association (POA) was formed right away to protect the homeowners and to deal with the developer. The POA also took on a “club manager” role by sponsoring and organizing bingo, dances, and other social events. The importance of the role played by the POA in protecting individual & community rights and property valuations grew over the years as various developers came and went. The Conticki riverboat would show prospects around the peninsula by water while off- road vehicles were used by land. The concept was lovely however, the pace of sales combined with insufficient HOA fee revenue combined in 1982, to force the developer into bankruptcy.

Coincident with the bankruptcy filling, Tega Cay residents petitioned and received the right to “Incorporate” and became a city, thereby ensuring the rights and best interests of the Tega Cay homeowners would be served. There was also a desire to have more input as to the direction of the community’s future. A strong Mayor form of government was chosen by the homeowners where a mayor and four council members would serve two-year terms. The city’s fist mayor, Tony Tarulli, was elected. He was also appointed to represent the property owners during the proceedings by the bankruptcy court.

The POA remained active during the bankruptcy hearings. Elected officials received constant feedback as to the homeowner’s desire to preserve their quality of life. During about this time deal was struck between the lending bank to provide, Tega Cay Associates with fiscal responsibility going forward. Having incorporated, elected officials, navigated through a bankruptcy hearing and successfully with the lending institution . . .  Tega Cay was looking to the future. The people of Tega Cay decided “The Good Life” should be it’s motto. What could be better? It was the reason most had moved to this community in the first place.

In June 1983, the bankruptcy plan was finalized. The elected officials and POA leaders were touted for bringing this chapter to a close. The plan called for a trust company to take over and operate the remaining undeveloped property, the clubhouse, pool, upper tennis courts, and golf course, while the city would take over the lower tennis courts, observation tower, athletic field, skeet range, archery range, roads, trash collection, security, green areas, and parks. Assessments for these services were phased out as the City absorbed them.

The Police Department was established in July 1983. In that same month the first session of Municipal Court was held with the appointment of Judge Grady McMehan. The City Hall and Community Room were established in late 1984 at the current location.

The economy hit a recession between 1987-1989 that significantly slowed the pace of home sales. The real estate left yet undeveloped [some 550 acres] was purchased by the Newland Corporation in 1999. The development deal focused on not only the development of new homes, but also on the contribution of resources to the town. A brand new clubhouse, pool and recreation center, an additional 9 holes were added to the golf course and an events pavilion were developed for Tega Cay residents to enjoy. Walking trails were also provided and a new playground and equipment was created at the entrance to the City.

This did not come easily as the development agreement did not restrict the developer from “clear cutting” in its language. As such, the two newest areas of Tega Cay, “Amber Woods” and “Lakeshore”, have a decidedly different look than the “Historic” sections. Residents were energized by the removal of one of the City’s most precious resources . . the trees! In fact, a proposed annexation’s final plan was actually stalled until the fall election of 2002. This election not only brought the City a new mayor but more importantly a new form of government. Tega Cay is now a Council/Manager form over government.

The City annexed new areas, Stonecrest, Crescent and Nivens Creek Landing. Stonecrest will bring the first planned retail and commercial properties to the City. It also has received reluctant approval for high density development of town homes and apartments. Crescent will also consist of town homes, while Nivens Creek is owned by Duke Power and will continue to serve as a boat ramp for area residents.

The main justification given for the annexation was the need for the city to grow its tax base to keep the “mill rate” down in the future. Final approval was not provided until the developer abandoned the “Second Entrance” connector to the Lakeshore community and language was incorporated to prevent “Clear Cutting”. The Second Entrance was feared to create aggressive cut through driving on an infrastructure that was not designed to handle the vehicle counts.

The census for the year 2000 shows 4,040 residents. However, the planned growth with Newland Carolina Development and the new annexed areas will more than double the population of the City by the year 2010.

Mayor-Council forms of government have and appointed salaried City Administrator. The Mayor and Council members are elected and receive no salary. The police department is full time, offering 24-hour protection and the fire department and EMT services are volunteer. The current population of Tega Cay is 4000+ and growing. The population is now 134% of the 1990 census figure. The expected impact of the annexations are for the current population to reach over 8000 strong by the year 2010.

For a more detailed history of the broader region, go to