When entering the clubhouse lobby, it's hard not to be struck. Why are there four tree trunks rising out of the floor and through the ceiling?

The explanation makes sense from architectural, ecological and marketing standpoints. The trees turn out to be cypress, and the central building stands within Cypress River Apartments.

Developer and builder C.F. Evans selected the locally abundant trees to match with the North Charleston property's namesake.

"We are calling this the 'cypress room,'" says Roseanne "Roe" Galati, assistant manager with property company NHE. Situated near the lobby's center, the trees stand in the shape of a square. On either end are a flat screen television and fireplace and chimney. "It's really cool," she says.

Cypress River Apartments, to showcase 280 apartment homes when completed next year, effectively opened this month off Blue House Road not far from Trident Medical Center and Charleston Southern University.

The apartment home community at present counts two completed buildings totaling 48 dwellings.

Renters can chose from seven floor plans comprised of three one-bedroom, three two-bedroom and a three-bedroom design. Apartment homes range from 507 to 1,330 square feet and are priced from $775 to $1,250 a month. Model homes include the one bedroom, one bath A1 design at 576 square feet and $775 a month and the two bedroom, two bath B style at 910 square feet and $960 a month.

According to a property brochure, the apartment homes showcase:

- Patios on the first level and balconies on upper stories.

- Wood-style floors and designer carpet.

- Crown molding and 9-foot ceilings.

- Pantry, granite countertops, side-by-side refrigerator, built-in microwave and black appliance package in the kitchen.

- Washer and dryer.

- Walk-in closets in bedrooms and bathroom garden tubs.

- Custom cabinets.

The developer late this fall completed the first amenities. Along with the cypress-studded lobby, the clubhouse holds a 24-hour fitness center with yoga room; conference area; Internet café with terminals, printers and wireless online capability; and an entertainment section housing a coffee and beverage bar, big screen television and comfortable chairs and sofas.

Near the community's tree-lined entrance stand two pet parks that include ramps, fire hydrants and water fountains at varying heights for people and pets.

Further attractions will be forthcoming. A resort-style swimming pool and deck off the clubhouse will be finished in February, Galati says. A connecting concrete sidewalk, meanwhile, will be showered with rock salt to leave eye-catching impressions, she says. Grilling areas and a fire pit will be nearby.

Cypress River Apartments will be a gated community with two access points. The clubhouse, office and amenities center stand outside the gates. All residents will get key cards that permit them to enter the limited access gates as well as go in the clubhouse, Galati says.

Tenants can rent garages, which are grouped together around the campus.

Another perk: "We have a preferred employer program," she says. Tenants connected to certain large employers such as Boeing and types of jobs including police officers will be eligible for 5 percent monthly rental discounts, she says.

Big or small, the community's attractions look out for the renter. For instance, there's a "drive through mail station," Galati says, "(so) you don't have to get wet."

Cypress River Apartments stands just off Interstate 26 at exit 205A. Heading west, take I-26 past Ashley Phosphate Road. At the set of turnoffs, take 205A for University Boulevard. Ease over to the left lane and turn left on Blue House Road. Follow the road for less than a mile and make a right into Cypress River Apartments, located at 9325 Blue House Road.

For more information, call 843-261-2010 or visit www.CypressRiverApts.com.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.