For nearly a decade, Ballantyne-area families have visited Hall Family Farm for a little taste of the country.“It’s kind of an annual tradition for us to pick strawberries at Hall Farm and make strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam at home,” said Laurie Tardif, a Weston Glen resident who has two children who are now 15 and 17. “I love the farm. I love it just the way it is.”Hall Farm, located on roughly 40 acres near the intersection of Providence Road West and Johnston Road, offers strawberry picking, hay rides, corn mazes, school bus tours and – most recently – a giant pumpkin patch.But according to Kevin Hall, who manages the farm’s agritourism and whose family owns the property, next spring could be its final season before it is sold and developed.“It’s the age-old story of farmland becoming so valuable due to development that no farm could possibly afford to operate if they have to purchase it at market value,” Hall said.Kevin Hall’s great-grandfather purchased the property in the 1910s. Most of those 600-plus acres were sold in the 1950s, ultimately becoming the southern half of Ballantyne Country Club, Hall said. But the family has retained nearly 40 acres.Hall’s grandfather, Leitner Hall, owned the farmland until he died in 2011. Then the property was split among the brothers and sisters, including Kevin Hall’s father. The property became available for sale soon after because most of Hall’s relatives are not interested in keeping the land. And those who are can’t afford to buy the entire property. The property, at 10713 Providence Road West, was valued at $577,523 as of the 2011 revaluation.“It’s really like winning the lottery. They will be very well-to-do when they receive the portion of the sale,” Hall said.He said the family has talked to several interested parties. He said one developer who has been eyeing the property since late last year is “closing in on a contract.”“They’re looking to develop it in some very high density manner, which is where the value of the property is,” said Hall, who said his relatives had not disclosed which developer with whom they’re talking. But Hall, 43, said his family plans to add a contract clause that would allow the agritourism operation to stay open at least one more year.Carmela Hidalgo, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty Ballantyne Area, said she loves taking her two children, ages 9 and 12, to the farm each year. She said she also can understand wanting to capitalize on the demand for Ballantyne real estate.“Our ZIP code (28277) is just hot, hot right now, and it’s affecting these little farms around the area,” she said. “Developers are really using up every single space that they can.”Still, Hidalgo said she’ll be sad to see the farm go. She said it’s been her family’s go-to place for strawberry and pumpkin picking for years.“It’s really sad for it to go away and be replaced with more construction,” said Hidalgo. “My kids are so upset.”When Kevin Hall posted on the farm’s Facebook business page on June 8 that a sale was likely imminent, at least 66 people commented, urging the farm owners to stay. Many recalled precious family memories they made there.“Please, please don't sell your farm! Please say no to commercialism in an already overdeveloped area,” wrote a user identifying herself as Erin Mancuso Smith. “Please keep your beautiful land. Your farm is one of the the few remaining places for families to have good, pure family fun.”Hall said the farm hosts upward of 4,000 students each season on school field trips. They also see about 30,000 individual cash register transactions.“We’ve watched every square inch of space be snatched up and developed into an office building or lots and lots of houses,” Tardif said. “Having Hall Farm there, it was kind of a comfort knowing they were there. It was like that was a piece of Ballantyne that was still like it was in the old days.”Hall said he hopes to continue bringing agritourism to area residents, just in a different incarnation He said some family members, including his father, have pledged their portion of the sales revenue to help purchase another property. The land will likely be outside of Meckenburg County and perhaps even the state.“It’s an unfortunate situation, and it’s not unique. It’s happening everywhere,” Hall said. “We’re just looking at the bright side. We hope we can continue farming and doing these same activities somewhere else.”
Wednesday, Jul. 09, 2014
Ballantyne’s Hall Farm may be sold for development
Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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