It’s easy to feel at home in University City.
The area in northeast Charlotte is a diverse community with lots of shops, restaurants and outdoors activities, along with some really good schools.
It’s a straightforward, though traffic-riddled, commute to work in downtown Charlotte. And University City’s many subdivisions give it a cozy feel – it’s the suburbs within the city and it’s easy to make your way around here.
University City also has experienced some significant changes over the past few years, with more big things on the horizon. Here’s a look at the place that I have called home for more than a decade:
Activities: Among many opportunities to take advantage of the outdoors, one of the most popular is the extensive greenway system. Check out the Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek Greenway for a peaceful stroll, bike ride, jogging or walking the dog.
Want more nature? UNC Charlotte offers a botanical garden that is open to the public.
Elsewhere on the campus, the UNCC 49ers football team played in only its second season this fall. Having a UNCC football team was years in the making, and one of many sports the school offers.
There are numerous rec leagues around. For years, our kids have enjoyed playing soccer in the American Youth Soccer Organization ( Region 605).
Those who like to rock on can go to PNC Music Pavilion. Despite it seemingly changing names every few years, the outdoor venue has hosted the likes of Elton John, James Taylor and Linkin Park.
Employment: While many people work in downtown Charlotte (I don’t care how long I’ve lived here, I’m not going to call it uptown), University City offers plenty of job centers.
The area is home to 23 Fortune 500 companies and more than 25 research, technology and energy-related companies, according to University City Partners. And the growth is continuing.
Just take a look at Electrolux, an appliance company based in Sweden that switched its North American headquarters to University Research Park in 2010. The company is planning to put up a six-story building beside its headquarters on David Taylor Drive, with construction set to wrap up by fall 2017.
Other major tenants at the 2,200-acre park include TIAA-Cref, IBM and Wells Fargo. All told, some 30,000 people work at the park, University City Partners said.
Shopping: The Shoppes at University Place (off Interstate 85’s Exit 45) includes everything from Sam’s Club and Dick’s Sporting Goods to several chain and independent restaurants and bars to Dave’s Paddleboats – which provides rentals visitors can navigate across a 10-acre lake.
IKEA, a few minutes to the south, is a highlight for shoppers from all over.
The area also is home to one of Charlotte’s three Trader Joe’s, and it will soon have specialty grocer The Fresh Market (also the third to open in Charlotte).
Transportation: As a Philadelphia native, I never understood how a major beltway in a major city could be incomplete.
But the end is in sight for University City residents: Work on the last leg of I-485 – from west of N.C. 115 to west of I-85 – is projected to be finished in December.
Elsewhere on the transportation front, construction is finally underway on a $1.1 billion extension of the Lynx Blue Line light rail to UNCC. It’s expected to be finished in 2017.