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monsoon

How did we end up with Ballantyne?

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OK I know how we ended up with it, I think the question is why did the city of Charlotte approve Ballentyne? I had the misfortune of having to go into this area today, the first time in a number of years, and I looked in disbelief as it is nothing but a endless series of strip malls and subdivisions. Anyone that would do a study on how not to build a small city only needs to go to this part of Charlotte to have a perfect case study. While a tremendous amount of money has been spent there, its mind numbing in its blandness and total lack of distinctiveness. We had to call to ask for directions, and there were no notable landmarks at all that could be used to describe where we needed to go. Instead directions were give relative to a chain restaurant, one of 100s there, and numbers of stop lights from a freeway exit. Even then, we ended up in the wrong place twice.

Ballentyne has some elaborate landscaping and there are sidewalks everywhere we did not see one person walking on any of them. This in a place that I would estimate now has a population of 10,000 or more. A small town, yet one that is so badly designed from an urban perspective that I can't imagine spending one's life in this place. It's like a cemetery in many aspects yet one where the inhabitants are living some kind of life. It's a wonderland, a made up place.

So why did the city council approve this place? I have heard the building of I-277 was one of the worst urban planning disasters to hit Charlotte, but it would seem to me this area would fit up there with it. Hopefully I won't have a need to go back there anytime soon.

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Despite your codger-y way of describing it, I completely agree. That place is horrible.

And the reason why Charlotte allowed it to happen is that there are people out there (a LOT of them) who don't think like us, and actually think that place is perfect - clean, new, well landscaped, safe, affluent, pre-gentrified, convenient more Applebees than anyone would ever need! YUCK.

We are the minority.

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Haha... kinda a funny thread for an urban site, since it is quite the opposite of everything an urban enviornment aims to improve and stand for. Nonetheless, I had the joys of working out there some 3-5 years ago and living about 20 minutes away. Those that live there tend to love it, but truly, it can't be described as anything more than a ritzy area of huge subdivisions and office towers, drive-thru starbucks, 2 Target's, etc. Very well kept up and I remember the land crew cutting lawn even in the middle of medians every week. Nonetheless, its endless sidewalks, central signature intersection, and the resort draws NO pedestrian activity and the soccer moms love driving around in there Cadillac Escalades just to cross the street or go to another part in the shopping center. I haven't been in it, but I do like the look of the movie theater at the corner of Johnston and is it Ballantyne Parkway (?). The lights and style remind me of S. Park, but that was the only positive that I can say I enjoyed from the years ago that I was around there. Haven't been there in probally 3 years though so can't say how it is versus how it was (although it sounds quite the same).

Oh and the answer to the question. Aside from the obvious and true answer, I think it came down to the surplus of land and there being a demand for high end and large lots. A lot of people that live out in Ballantyne are people from city's like NYC where they were used to an $800k apt that was 500 square feet and are all of a sudden amazed that for half that price they can get 4000 square feet and an acre lot. Some like the style and life out in the suburbs some don't. At least you have that option though in Charlotte...

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Welcome to the South Side!!!!

And it's BALLANTYNE, with an "A". Well, two of them, actually. Get it right. Or else!

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Ballantyne is a monster. The momentum goes all the way to Waxhaw. You're probably happy that you didn't see that.

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I think it was bissell right? they have major land interests in the south of the city and want to keep retail and development growing there, rather then in uptown. the further south, the better for them. It may not be bissell, but its one of those families.

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^Indeed. If I remember correctly, it was the Harris family that owned all this land. Think Dee Dee, Johnny, etc. who got it from an inheritance. I heard some rumor they were the ones that helped get I-485 passed as getting Hwy 521 moved east by a couple of miles because it would allow access to that land down there. (before Ballentyne, 521 ran directly through Pineville)

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As I recall, the Ballantyne acreage was the Harris' family hunting preserve. They had a cabin out there. I guess they found issue with the word "preserve" (it apparently goes against all of the tenents of being a terrible developer).

The real question here is how can there be something known as the Ballantyne RESORT Hotel? When do resort hotels overlook an asphalt parking lot, high tension power lines, and a large freeway interchange?

Shelita Hamm has it right when she says "...one should never venture into 28277--unless you need to get a deal on liquour at the duty free store, or feel the need to have 27 gables on a new house on a street named for something from Brigadoon."

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Personally I don't draw any distinciton between Ballantyne and all the other suburban development in Mecklenburg County....hell even the rest of the country. It is all the same to me. They all take cues from the same suburban planning book....following whatever is the latest trend of the day. Back in the 90s all the rage was culdesacs and now it is "neo-urban" where they push the houses up to the street and put an alley in the back and design neighborhoods on a "pho grid" system.

The reality is that all of the houses in Ballantyne could have been scattered to fit on lots between Uptown and 485. That is what really bugs me. It is not necesary, needed, or healthy development.

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HARRIS... thats it. Yeah they owned all the land, now they run it all, and they are a major proponent of keeping retail out of uptown in discrete ways, more people have to go to ballantyne, the more $ they make.

Ballantyne and Southpark are both sort of satellite cities and are major reasons why the city never grew out naturally to surround the city, but instead grew more to the south (well that and in the mid 1900's politicians giving every ounce of federal funding to the south of the city) and they are the reason why retail in uptown is unnecessary. the spending power stays in the south of the city, retail is close, dollars go there.

if all the retail and desirable aspects of southpark and ballantyne went to center city, wouldnt it be interesting to see how quickly charlottes wealth distribution changed on the map

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Despite your codger-y way of describing it, I completely agree. That place is horrible.

And the reason why Charlotte allowed it to happen is that there are people out there (a LOT of them) who don't think like us, and actually think that place is perfect - clean, new, well landscaped, safe, affluent, pre-gentrified, convenient more Applebees than anyone would ever need! YUCK.

We are the minority.

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What if you take away the soccer moms driving their Escalades who don't have to worry about gas prices? Ballantyne itself (I'm not talking about all of the stuff that has built up a few miles down the road) is actually a fairly self-sustaining community. Everyone keeps talking about having the ability to walk or use transit to get to whatever you need whether it be your job or to go shopping. While not the greatest, CATS does have a route that runs around the Ballantyne Corporate Park and shopping centers and it's already been mentioned that there are tons of sidewalks so that means its walkable and you have a safe alternative to driving. There are corporate businesses, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, movie theatre, service industries, etc. all in within the four corners of Ballantyne Commons and Johnston Road. Churches, parks, schools, and the Y have all popped up nearby. It seems that the only valid complaint about the development itself is that it's drawn people away from inner Charlotte. If people made the choice to be less auto dependent in Ballantyne, it is very much possible for it to be quite nice.

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..... It seems that the only valid complaint about the development itself is that it's drawn people away from inner Charlotte. If people made the choice to be less auto dependent in Ballantyne, it is very much possible for it to be quite nice.

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The Escapists - Unless I'm confusing you with someone else, I think you said at one point you lived in Richmond? To me Ballantyne is just like the west end of Richmond (what's called Short Pump), only bigger. Nothing but strip malls, seas of parking lots, chain stores/restaurants and no encouragement of pedestrian activity. When I relocated here almost 2 years ago, my realtor took me through Ballantyne and after seeing about 2 minutes of it I was like "No thanks." I can accept whatever shortcomings we have in Dilworth/Southend to never have to live in B-tyne.

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Can't stand places like that where there is no tree canopy, tons of big box stores, stepford houses, and tchotchki's restaurants (from the movie Office Space). Yet that is what the masses seem to want...look at places like Cary, NC which is consistently rated one of the top places in the country to live. Seems very bland and boring to me.

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......look at places like Cary, NC which is consistently rated one of the top places in the country to live. Seems very bland and boring to me.

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What's fascinating to me is the fact that Ballantyne seems to have very little connectivity with the actual city of Charlotte. It just seems soooooo way out, and I, too, don't see the appeal of living there.

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What's fascinating to me is the fact that Ballantyne seems to have very little connectivity with the actual city of Charlotte. It just seems soooooo way out, and I, too, don't see the appeal of living there.

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When I say "connectivity," I'm referring to the built environment. Even a lot of suburban development happens somewhat organically (it just takes the wrong form); there's just a very, very obvious gap when you skip over into Ballantyne. You can tell it's a "forced" community. I suspect that if Mecklenburg County were located in SC or GA, Ballantyne would either be an unincorporated area or its own municipality.

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^That's why I referred to it as "wonderland". See the reference to that in regards to planned suburbia. It's a disconnected place, one that exists in it's own bubble, one that doesn't have any relation the area's history, built area, etc.

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I guess during the planning stages the layout was considered innovative and sensible for the time.The people living there see it as Nirvana. All their needs are taken care of without having to leave a bubble where everyone is in the same socioeconomic group. No need to go to the scary city and deal with threatening "diversity". Growing up on Hilton Head Island in a series of gated communities in a place just as overly landscaped and conformist in development, I get the same exact vibe on my infrequent trips down there. I also see HHI stickers on dozens of SUVS in Btyne. Birds of a feather vacation together.

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I suggest anyone curious about the mindset that makes these places successful, take a very quick trip over to the Charlotte forum at city-data.com. It is a much more real estate agent type of website, but the overbearing theme is, "Where can I get the biggest house, with the best schools, with the lowest crime, that's not more than a 30-45 minute commute for X amount of dollars." On the surface, the questions seem so blatantly idyllic, until you see the result of that demand.

I probably end up in Ballantyne for one reason or another 2-3 times a year. I always leave very depressed. I don't mean this as a slight to anyone that chooses to live there, because obviously it is appealing to many many people, but I physically feel like part of my soul has been sucked out of me. If B-Tyne isn't bad enough, go a little futher to Marvin, NC. The last time I was there, I literally felt emotionally drained to the point where I couldn't interact with people the rest of the day.

Part of me is very libertarian, which believes that people should enjoy life uninfringed, but I guess what trumps that is the sadness that the choices people make seem so self-centered and self-indulgement that I sometimes assume that humans natural inclination is to take without regard to what is reasonable and sustainable. Ayn Rand would be very happy with Marvin.

Lastly, while obviously the geography of the Harris' land holdings couldn't be changed, it is interesting to consider the possibility of what could have been achieved in term of urban design, if they had used the same amount of money on creating Ballantyne's existing infrastructure to create a truly sustainable neighborhood/urban district.

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^Very well said. I recently worked with a fellow who moved to B-tyne from San Diego. He kept harping on how much he hates Charlotte and how utterly plastic it is. Later came this caveat: he wanted to live uptown or in Midwood, but his realtor told him that he'd make more from an investment point of view if he purchased in B-tyne. Uptown is overbuilt, he was told. As far as Midwood was concerned, his realtor told him that it was a crime-ridden area and he'd have poor return on investment due to bad schools.

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- clean, new, well landscaped, safe, affluent, pre-gentrified.......

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