Ground Is Broken on Ballantyne
In 1996 this magazine declared that "many believe [Ballantyne] will influence the way Charlotteans live in the twenty-first century in much the same way Myers Park did in the twentieth century." That statement appeared in "Suburban Pioneers," written by Edward Martin.
The 2,000 or so acres that make up Ballantyne was once the family hunting preserve of former North Carolina Governor Cameron Morrison. It was connected to his dairy farm, which Morrison's grandchildren, Johnny and Cameron Harris and Sara Harris Bissell, developed into SouthPark over thirty years ago.
"The biggest, meanest old red mule lived down there, and he could knock you on your butt," recalled Johnny Harris in the article. "Those are the kinds of things you remember. We had wonderful bird dogs. We'd hunt quail and give them to people as presents. My dad knew and understood that at some point, it would be a wonderful asset. We were fortunate enough to keep it in one piece as we went through the transitions of my father's and mother's deaths.
According to the article, The Harris Group had planned to spend at least $20 million on the infrastructure of Ballantyne. That investment has led to an amazing amount of development on the old hunting preserve. Thousands of people live in Ballantyne now, and they're still coming. The area claims a private golf and country club as well as an upscale resort complex, plus an ever-expanding business park.
The rapid growth of Ballantyne has led to its share of traffic jams, for sure, but in that 1996 article, county planning director Martin Crampton lauded the Ballantyne vision.
"It will take 2,000 acres of south Mecklenburg land and develop it a unique community that would have been simply 2,000 acres of disjointed subdevelopments, low-density urban sprawl, and the strip shopping center we all know and love.
As for being the next Myers Park? Well, that may have been an understatement.