When I first moved back to Charlotte, I wrestled with what part of town to live in. Uptown appealed to me; so did Dilworth and other areas.I settled on a place off Harris Boulevard near Davis Lake and not too far from a neighborhood I lived in as a child.Nearly eight years later, I’m still happy with that decision.The northern end of the city – which we’ve loosely defined as the area that begins just outside of NoDa and includes University City, Derita, Highland Creek, Hidden Valley and places near Northlake Mall – to me offers one of the more intriguing looks into the city.The many two-lane roadways that run through the area are a lingering reminder of Mecklenburg’s rural past. So is the 104-year-old Davis General Store that still operates off Old Statesville Road near Huntersville.But you can also just as easily see evidence of how much this part of town has changed.Take UNC Charlotte. The state’s fourth-largest public university has grown tremendously in recent decades, both in the types of courses offered and the physical transformation of the campus. And in a year, you’ll be able to cheer on the Charlotte 49ers’ new football team.Meanwhile, Northlake Mall – which opened in 2005 – has brought more shopping and restaurant options to the far western end of Harris Boulevard. And the area has added some mixed-use developments. The completion of Interstate 485 and proposed extension of the light rail could spark more.Perhaps what appeals to me most about this area is the diversity, both in terms of racial and ethnic groups as well as socio-economic levels. You’ll also run into people of all ages, including college students, young professionals, families and retirees.And there’s plenty to do for folks of all ages.The Clark’s and Mallard Creek greenways, popular among bicyclists and walkers, stretches seven miles through neighborhoods all the way to the university. You can buy used books or sell your items at The Last Word, or catch concerts year-round at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. And the kids will love spending part of the summer at the water park at the University YMCA.Those needing to travel outside the area are in luck. From many spots, you’re just a 20- or 25-minute drive from areas like uptown, NoDa, Concord Mills or the lake. And three of the county’s main interstates cut through the area, making it relatively easy to travel to other places, as well.Like any areas, there are flaws. Traffic on Harris and on the interstates can be a bear during rush hour. Some neighborhoods were hit hard by foreclosures during the recession.Still, I have a hunch you’ll find plenty you’ll like in north Charlotte.Trust me. I haven’t left it yet.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
Easy access to the city – and to nature
‘Must’ list 1. There’s plenty to do at UNC Charlotte (9201 University City Blvd.) even if you’re not a student, with opportunities ranging from guest speakers to cultural performances to sporting events. www.uncc.edu. 2. Buy a treat (or two) at Nona’s Sweets (9331 J.W. Clay Blvd.), an Italian bakery that offers a great selection of cookies, cakes, chocolate and other treats that won’t break your wallet. 704-717-6144. 3. Enjoy the great outdoors at Latta Plantation (6211 Sample Road). There are many options, including kayaking, horseback riding and hiking. Or ride a Segway across the nature preserve. www.lattaplantation.org. 4. Hop into one of Dave’s Paddleboats and cruise around the water at the Shoppes at University Place (8929 J.M. Keynes Drive). $10 per boat for a 30-minute ride. 704-598-0281.