Living Here Guide

Ballantyne: The ‘bubble’ is booming

I wasn’t crazy about trading my quaint, close-in Elizabeth apartment for a suburban Ballantyne townhouse when I got married in 2003 (my new husband owned the townhouse so it made sense to settle there), but I quickly found lots to love about the place.

The fact that we just bought our third house within a 4-mile radius says it all.

And judging from the traffic and road construction across the area that grows seemingly by the day, lots of other people are growing their roots in the 28277, too. In May, Ballantyne was the second-most-moved-in zip code in the country, according to Atlanta-based Welcomemat Services.

And for good reason.

The area’s public schools, while crowded, are nationally recognized, boasting high test scores and active PTAs. Ardrey Kell High School has award-winning sports and music teams and turns out National Merit Finalists each year. There are plenty of good charter and private school options, too.

Business is booming in Ballantyne. The Ballantyne Corporate Park’s latest giant coup, MetLife, has filled more than 900 jobs since opening a new retail hub in 2013. Job growth has made the area so attractive to homebuyers that houses in many neighborhoods are getting full-price offers within hours of being listed.

But the area isn’t just about jobs and homes. I can’t think of a community as rich in activities for young families as Ballantyne.

Trying to get my three kids to agree on a free-time activity is hard, because the choices are so ample.

On bad-weather days, we head to the Sports Connection, a giant bowling alley/bounce house/laser tag/arcade/indoor ropes course with an extensive food menu and beer selection.

For outdoor fun, we enjoy disc golfing at the Elon Park Recreation Center, picking berries or pumpkins at Hall Family Farms, splashing in the waterpark at the Morrison YMCA or checking out the Big Rock Nature Preserve, nestled in the Thornhill neighborhood.

My kids love art, music and sports, so we’ve had a blast hosting learn-to-sew birthday parties at Sew Fun in the Fountains, taking violin lessons at Elon Park Recreation Center through the Community School of the Arts, and participating in sports teams through the Morrison YMCA.

My neighbors joke that they hate leaving the “Ballantyne bubble” because life is so convenient here.

The area is awash in grocery stores – 28277 alone boasts five Harris Teeters, Earth Fare, the city’s first Publix and Trader Joe’s. A Whole Foods will open here next year.

The Stonecrest and Blakeney shopping centers hold a good mix of national and local retailers (Targets in both), and Ballantyne Village is a popular gathering spot for the boutique shopping or date-night crowd.

Our church, St. Matthew Catholic Church, is one of the largest Catholic churches in the country, at more than 9,500 families. Other churches have completed big expansion projects recently and mega-church Elevation, which already has a large worship center in Blakeney, is planning another worship center in Ballantyne.

While we make a point to explore new restaurants across the city, there are lots of good local spots right around the corner, from the ample sushi selection at Jade Asian Fusion in Ballantyne Village to farm-to-table cuisine at Vine on Johnston Road or True Crafted Pizza for one-of-a-kind pies in the Stonecrest shopping center. Bradshaw Social House is a fun spot for an after-work beer or night out.

Are there downsides? Of course.

Homes are still springing up in Ballantyne and farther south in Indian Land, adding to the traffic congestion. Roads in the area are having to expand to accommodate more cars, so going even short distances in Ballantyne during rush-hour can seem to take forever.

And Ballantyne residents who commute uptown every day face lengthy commutes of an hour or more some days. (The I-485 widening project will help in the future, but is making a mess in the meantime.)

The bubble is growing. But I still can’t picture a better place for our growing family.