Live Where You Play
Periodically, I get emails from out-of-staters moving to the region who are looking for a good place to live. And by “good place,” they mean a place close to where they can play. A place with a long greenway, or good hiking trails, a nearby mountain bike network or maybe some nice Class II and III whitewater running through the backyard. Well, maybe not right through the backyard, but close. I do a little research and shoot back an email listing options. And every time I do, I think, there have to be more people out there who would love to live closer to where they play.
A little over a month ago I got a query from Henderson Properties in Charlotte about a potential sponsorship arrangement. We kicked around some ideas, then hit on the notion of a “Live Where You Play” feature. Henderson Properties would provide descriptions of their seven neighborhoods in the Charlotte area, I would add nearby places to play. My focus would be on the true gems, the places where you could see yourself spending a lot of quality active time. For the most part, places you could reach within five minutes and if it takes longer, the place needs to be extra special. We provide a quick description and a link where you could find details. The resulting list would live on the left side of our home page, under “Where to Play in North Carolina.”
To be sure, this is not a comprehensive resource, at least not yet. The communities listed are only those managed by Henderson Properties, which is sponsoring the feature. But it does represent a cross-section of Charlotte, and if other real estate companies in Charlotte and throughout the state like the feature, then it could grow into a comprehensive resource. (How’s that for subtle marketing, real estate companies? Real estate companies, by the way, are welcome to email us at email@example.com for details on how they, too, can become part of our “Live Where You Play” universe.)
So here we are with our first foray into real estate matched with real good places to play. To recap: the words about the communities themselves are Henderson Properties, Inc., the words about nearby places to play are ours. Let us know what you think.
Ballantyne: Suburban Luxury
Ballantyne is a south suburb of Charlotte. The newer 2,000-acre community sits off of Interstate 485 on what was once the Morrison Hunting Reserve. Ballantyne has everything a homeowner needs, including shopping, dining, entertainment and even a large corporate park and golf course.
Currently, Ballantyne is experiencing growth, with home prices up over the same time last year. Home values are high, as this is an area many people wish to live. Excellent schools, numerous business and employment opportunities and the building of new developments within its borders mean it is an attractive area, both for buyers and sellers. More info here.
Where to play: Just over the state line in Fort Mill, S.C., about five miles away, is the Anne Springs Close Greenway, a 2,300-acre preserve with more than 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trail. A 4.1-mile stretch of the McAlpine Creek/Campbell Creek Greenway runs through the north end of the Ballantyne area. The greenway runs through McAlpine Park, home to one of the region’s top 5K natural surface race courses. The greenway is part of Charlotte’s planned 150-mile greenway network. Davie Park includes a dog park. The Ballantyne area has five community parks.
Gastonia: Value Near the City
Gastonia gives Charlotte homebuyers the chance to shop in an award-winning community. It has been given both the All-American City Award and the City Livability Award, and it continues to be popular among buyers who want to live near Charlotte but outside the city limits. The commute to downtown is only about 20 minutes, but Gastonia has its own share of dining, shopping and entertainment options. It also has excellent schools and is home to the Carolina Speedway.
Gastonia has a lower average listing price than other similar Charlotte neighborhoods because of the number of condos in this community. Even with the lower prices, these homes are seeing an increase in value, with properties worth more this year than they were last year, and numbers continuing to increase. A steady stream of interested buyers means properties move quickly in Gastonia. More info here.
Where to play: Crowders Mountain State Park just west of town has more than 18 miles of hiking trail (including the Ridgeline Trail that connects with Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina), rock climbing and a bouldering area. George Poston Park, including a dog park, 7 miles of hiking trails and 6 miles of mountain bike trail (with more to open pending completion of a park construction project). National Whitewater Center, less than 20 minutes east on I-85, is the Disney of outdoor adventure, with whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, a 45-foot climbing wall, hiking and running trails, flatwater paddling and more. Gastonia has 13 community parks.
Concord: Historic Properties
Concord is a bit farther from downtown Charlotte, but still within a 30-minute drive of the city. Concord's historic downtown attracts buyers who appreciate the character of older homes, and the city has two National Register Historic Districts. Boutique shops and unique dining options are also abundant, and it is home to the Concord Mills outlet mall.
Concord is experiencing mixed growth. Median sales prices are higher this year over last, but the average list price is dropping. Only a small number of the properties on the market in Concord are foreclosures. More info here.
Where to Play: Morrow Mountain State Park isn’t right in your backyard, but at less than 50 minutes away its 15 miles of hiking trails, lake and river paddling and 1930s swimming pool make the drive worthwhile. Uwharrie National Forest, Morrow Mountain’s neighbor, offers more than 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking on the Keyauwee and Supertree loop trails. Lake Norman State Park, National Whitewater Center, less than 40 minutes west on I-85, is the Disney of outdoor adventure, with whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, a 45-foot climbing wall, hiking and running trails, flatwater paddling and more. Concord has two greenways, the Harold McEachern Greenway linking Les Myers Park and Mickey McGee Park, and the Village Greenway running from Spring Street to Kerr Street. There are seven community parks in the Concord area.
Matthews: Family Appeal
The 13-square mile town of Matthews is popular with people looking for a place to raise a family. It sits between Charlotte and Monroe, providing easy access to the amenities of the city, while also containing plenty of amenities of its own. The Matthews Commercial District is a historic place within Matthews that features homes from the 1800s and early 1900s. Matthews is seeing steady growth in average sale prices, in spite of a higher than average number of foreclosures in the area. More info here.
Where to Play: Colonel Francis Beatty Community Park includes 11 miles of singletrack mountain bike trail and a lake for canoeing and kayaking. Sherman Branch Park has 11.6 miles of singletrack often cited as some of the best in Charlotte. Four Mile Creek Greenway, which is actually two miles, links downtown Matthews with Squirrel Lake Park, a great family trip. McAlpine Creek Park has a 2-mile bike trail, a 1.5-mile hiking trail, a championship 5K cross-country course and a dog park. Freedom Park has hiking trails, a 7-acre lake and connects with the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. James Boyce Park connects via greenway with McAlpine Creek Park and has multi-purpose trails Inner Peaks Climbing Center, indoor climbing gym with 13,000 square feet of terrain and 25-foot walls. There are three community parks in the Matthews area.
View Henderson Properties Neighborhoods in a larger map
Uptown: Convenience and Variety
Uptown sits in the heart of Charlotte, which is ideal for those who want to be close to their place of work. It has an interesting mix of properties divided into four wards. Here you can find everything from luxury penthouses to single family homes and more urban rental units. The historic Fourth Ward in Uptown contains the only remaining examples of Queen Anne architecture in the region, and the historic properties here are very well maintained. Uptown is one of the city's fastest growing business districts, and the residential side of things is starting to catch up with the growth of business. Lofts, condos and apartments are some of the most common types of properties here. More info here.
Where to Play: Renaissance Park has 8 miles of intermediate and advanced mountain bike trail Southwest District Park offers 3 miles of singletrack mountain bike trail near the airport. National Whitewater Center, about 20 minutes from downtown, is the Disney of outdoor adventure, with whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, a 45-foot climbing wall, hiking and running trails, flatwater paddling and more. Greenways in the Uptown area include Irwin Creek & Stewart Creek greenways, Little Sugar Creek Greenway, currently in four short sections but eventually to run 19 miles and the Briar Creek Greenway, 1.5 miles in two sections. Latta Plantation, covering 6,500 acres northwest of Uptown, has more than 30 miles of hiking trail and camping. There are 10 neighborhood parks in Uptown, including Frazier Park and its dog park. Grayson SkatePark is a 13,000-square-foot facility with “A multi-bowl ranging from 5½ to 10½ feet deep caters.” Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center has a 50-meter competition pool and 25-yard therapeutic pool. Ray’s Splash Planet is an indoor waterpark run by the county. The Hornets Nest Park BMX Bike Track, is a 1,150-foot track that’s the site of Saturday bike races. There are 10 community parks in the Uptown area.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte area
The area surrounding the University of North Carolina at Charlotte features one of the state's largest industrial parks. It also is home to the Northlake Mall, which has over 120 retailers. This currently is one of Charlotte's fastest growing areas, and condos and homes here move quickly. In spite of the growth in interest, the median sales price has dropped over the last year. Interest is growing, but prices are not. More info here.
Where to Play: mountain bike, Sherman Branch Park has 11.6 miles of singletrack often cited as some of the best in Charlotte. Greenways include Mallard Creek, Clark’s Creek, and Toby Creek, which combine for more than 9 miles of paved greenway. Reedy Creek Park offers a dog park. Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, is a 737-acre refuge with more than 10 miles of hiking trail, National Whitewater Center, about 30 minutes west, is the Disney of outdoor adventure, with whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, a 45-foot climbing wall, hiking and running trails, flatwater paddling and more. There are four community parks in the area.
Pineville: Small Town Feel
Pineville offers the chance to live near the city while benefiting from the small town charm of the country. The small community has many amenities of its own, including a community park, recreational facilities and shopping venues, including Carolina Place Mall. The number of homes for sale in Pineville is small, and prices have dropped over last year, likely due to a high percent of foreclosures among the available properties. This provides an excellent opportunity for buyers who are looking for the ambiance of a small, close-knit community for their next home purchase. More info here.
Where to play: McDowell Park, 1,107-acre nature preserve with 7 miles of hiking trail, fishing and boat access to Lake Wylie. Lake Wylie offers miles of flatwater paddling National Whitewater Center, about 20 minutes away, is the Disney of outdoor adventure, with whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain biking, a 45-foot climbing wall, hiking and running trails, flatwater paddling and more. Just over the state line in Fort Mill, S.C., is the Anne Springs Close Greenway, a 2,300-acre preserve with more than 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trail. There are three community parks in Pineville.