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Ballantyne among top searches

By Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood
Allen Norwood writes on Home design, do-it-yourself and real estate for The Charlotte Observer. His column appears each Saturday.

Ballantyne was farmland and hunting preserve just a couple of decades ago. Short decades, too. Now, families shopping for homes online have made it one of the most searched-for neighborhoods in the entire country. says the ZIP code that includes Ballantyne, 28277, was No. 5 on the site in 2013.

The folks in all those neighborhoods (and traffic jams) down there might not be surprised, but I am. Ballantyne on a list of favorites that includes ZIPs in Chicago and Dallas? Impressive.

On, Charlotte real estate agent Lisa Archer listed some of the reasons Ballantyne is so popular. “There are a lot of new office parks and businesses that are cropping up to fuel the growth,” said Archer, who’s with Keller Williams. “Ballantyne also hosts several hotels and golf course communities. There is also an enormous amount of shopping and dining … The schools are incredible, and the housing demand reflects that.”

OK – and I’m still surprised by how quickly the area has grown and prospered.

Boundaries and history

The ZIP that includes Ballantyne is in the southern tip of Mecklenburg County.

It’s bounded by N.C. 51 on the north, and Providence Road on the east. On the southwest, the boundary is the state line, where suburban growth spills into Fort Mill. The southeast margin is the Union County line – which suburban growth crossed before Ballantyne came along.

Some of the area’s history is widely known. Members of the Harris family – which had developed SouthPark – relocated the crowded, outdated U.S. 521 so they could develop 2,000 acres of farmland and hunting acreage into what’s now Ballantyne. The old route ran through downtown Pineville.

Johnny and Cameron Harris sold their interest in the project to their brother-in-law Smokey Bissell. He named it for his aunt Barbara Ballantyne.

Lots of folks grumbled when a stretch of Providence Road West, already flanked by popular neighborhoods, became Ballantyne Commons Parkway. I wrote a front-page story about that back in 1995.

Providence, in Charlotte, has a long-established upscale appeal. That’s why so many neighborhoods have “Providence” in their names. But what image would Ballantyne project?

Well, we know the answer to that now, don’t we?

‘Circumferential’ to Ardrey Kell

Ardrey Kell Road crosses the ZIP code from Providence Road to N.C. 521. It wasn’t all Ardrey Kell when I wrote that story in 1995. Lots of it was just a line labeled “circumferential” on planning maps. (Circumferential High School? I think not. Ardrey Kell is way better.)

Ardrey Kell, by the way, was built largely by private developers, instead of taxpayers.

Walter Fields, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg planner for 20 years, also remembers when Ballantyne was mostly scrub pines and a Harris family dream. “I remember vividly driving out there back in the dark ages,” said Fields, now president of the Walter Fields Group, planning consultants. “I turned up a dirt road … into a pasture … I could see the Charlotte skyline, and I thought, Wow!”

I told Fields that Ballantyne was No. 5 among the most-searched-for neighborhoods on

He said, “What?!”

I said, “Really!”

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