When Charlotte started its tremendous growth some 30 years ago, it headed south first and hasn’t stopped since. A few main arteries can take you directly from Uptown to south Charlotte, including South Boulevard, Park Road, Providence Road, Monroe Road and Independence Boulevard. Likewise, you can travel across the southern crescent between Pineville and Matthews on the aptly named Pineville-Matthews Road (N.C. 51) or via the I-485 outer belt.
When you mention south Charlotte to anyone in town, two words will likely roll off their tongues – SouthPark and Ballantyne. These are the two major destinations for living, shopping and working on the south side of town.
The area referred to as SouthPark, centered at Fairview and Sharon roads, was once part of a 3,000-acre farm owned by N.C. Gov. Cameron Morrison. The farm’s main house – the Morrocroft Mansion, built between 1924 and 1927 — still stands on its original site. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the stunning 14,000-square-foot Tudor Revival house stayed in the family until 1981. It remains a private residence today.
SouthPark is a prestigious address that offers a variety of housing styles, ranging from 1950s ranch houses in Beverly Woods and Barclay Downs to newer million-dollar homes in Pellyn Grove and the gated Morrocroft community.
In addition to being a residential center, SouthPark is a bustling business district. With an estimated 40,000 workers, it is second only to Uptown. Tasteful office buildings are spread throughout the area, including the eye-catching Rotunda with its dancing fountains. Several hotels are also located in SouthPark, including the Hyatt and the Courtyard Marriott.
Shopping in SouthPark is known as the best in the city. The centerpiece is SouthPark mall, Charlotte’s most upscale shopping center, which recently expanded to include Nordstrom and a number of other high-end stores, including Neiman Marcus, which opened in 2006. The mall also includes Tiffany, Pottery Barn, St. John and Ann Taylor, in addition to four department stores.
SouthPark is also the home of the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops concerts, performed at the new amphitheater at SouthPark. These free evening concerts are one of the mall’s two signature community events. The other is a Christmas tradition – the annual Christmas tree lighting, which takes place on Thanksgiving Day and features caroling and a visit from Santa.
Other shopping venues include Phillips Place, Sharon Corners, Morrocroft Village and Specialty Shops on the Park. All include shopping and dining options.
SouthPark’s condo market is beginning to rival that of Uptown, with a number of major luxury and mixed-use developments in the works.
Piedmont Town Center, off Fairview Road near SouthPark mall, is a Crescent Resources development of offices, shops, restaurants and a branch of the YMCA. Recently completed Piedmont Row condominiums are also part of the complex, offering one-, two- and three-bedroom units starting in the $250s. Residents enjoy the rooftop pool and terrace, where they can catch a glimpse of the Charlotte skyline.
At the intersection of Fairview and Park roads, SouthGate on Fairview is under construction, offering townhomes from the mid-$200s to the $600s. It is expected to be completed by 2008.
Louisburg Square, at the intersection of Sharon and Sharon View near the Harris YMCA, features luxury townhomes and condos ranging from the low $300s to the high $500s.
Morrison is a mixed-use development with retail and restaurants on the street level as well as 80 condos, townhomes and penthouses on the upper floors, ranging from the mid-$200s to the mid-$500s. The third phase of the project – still in the planning phase – will add 150 luxury apartments.
The Village at SouthPark, adjacent to SouthPark mall, includes a two-level Crate & Barrel, as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom condos.
A couple miles east of SouthPark lies the Cotswold neighborhood, with sprawling 1960s brick ranches on large lots as well as plenty of infill development such as Whitby Pond, with large Dilworth-style homes, and Avondale Square, which offers townhomes and condos.
Rosewood, at the corner of Providence and Sharon Amity roads, is a luxury condominium complex on nine acres that boasts French Renaissance architecture, gardens, tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness center and a putting green. Units at Rosewood range from the $500s to over $1 million.
Ballantyne is a newer community south of I-485 on what used to be the Morrison hunting preserve. The 2,000-acre development is practically a town unto itself. Within its borders are a 535-acre corporate park, which includes office buildings, a resort hotel, an 18-hole, daily-fee golf course and the Dana Rader School of Golf. The golf course has been recognized as one of the best in the state and Dana Rader’s school as one of the 25 best in the country.
Ballantyne Country Club custom homes are being snatched up quick, and remaining homes start at $1 million. Residents will enjoy a private 18-hole golf course. Ballantyne also offers several apartment communities and a variety of new-home communities in nearly every price range.
Ballantyne Village, a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use development in the heart of Ballantyne, offers upscale retail and restaurants in addition to luxury condominiums. One of the highlights of Ballantyne Village is the Village Theater, which features independent films, leather seats and also serves beer and wine.
In 2006, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools opened the new Ardrey Kell High School to serve the growing Ballantyne area.
While SouthPark and Ballantyne are two large landmarks in south Charlotte, they are not its sum and total. Real estate listings for south Charlotte span areas 4, 5 and 6.
Aside from SouthPark, there are numerous other shopping options. The recently renovated Cotswold Village Shops has Books-A-Million, Stein Mart, and Ten Thousand Villages, among others.
Park Road Shopping Center, one of the area’s oldest shopping centers, is always crowded on weekends with folks visiting local favorite Blackhawk Hardware, browsing through the shelves at independent bookstore Park Road Books or having a drink on the patio of Sir Edmund Halley’s, an English pub.
Neighborhoods near Park Road Shopping Center include Madison Park and Collins Park, established neighborhoods featuring 1950s brick ranches and tall trees.
Farther out Providence Road at N.C. 51 is the Arboretum, a massive shopping center with movie theaters, restaurants, a supermarket, Barnes & Noble and The Gap among its attractions. The Arboretum area has also become a center for service-oriented businesses such as banks, insurance, real estate and medical offices.
Rea Road at Ballantyne Commons treats shoppers and diners to a variety of interests at Stonecrest. This center was developed to attract area soccer moms, and many shops are child-focused.
Heading west on N.C. 51 toward Pineville, you pass a multitude of shopping centers including Carmel Commons, Tower Place and McMullen Creek. As you pass under I-485, you’ll come to the two-story Carolina Place Mall and The Centrum, a shopping center that includes Pier 1 Imports, Home Depot and Petsmart. Allow yourself plenty of time when shopping in this area on the weekends, as N.C. 51 is known for its Saturday traffic jams.
This side of town also includes a variety of recreational options. The Harris YMCA, near SouthPark, and the Siskey YMCA in Matthews are family favorites. Both feature huge fitness centers, special programs for children, playing fields and water parks. The Mecklenburg Aquatic Club on Providence Road is another option for swimming, offering lessons and team competition.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation Department operates several greenways in south Charlotte. The McMullen and Lower McAlpine Creek greenways offer 4 miles of trails.
McAlpine Creek Greenway, Charlotte’s oldest, has 8.9 miles of trails that are being upgraded and refurbished. The Park and Recreation Department is currently planning the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which will eventually traverse 15 miles through the heart of Charlotte from Cordelia Park in north Charlotte to the N.C./S.C. state line. Sections of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway have already been constructed, and the entire 15-mile trek will be completed within the next decade.
In addition to the greenways, there are several county parks that south Charlotte residents enjoy. Park Road Park has several tennis courts, basketball courts, playground equipment, baseball fields and an 11-acre lake. It’s a popular place for group outings. McAlpine Creek Park on Monroe Road also has a lake, walking and biking trails, and Ray’s Fetching Meadow, an off-leash dog park that was recently refurbished. Col. Francis Beatty Park on Weddington Road features a 20-acre lake, mountain biking trails and athletic facilities.
As is true throughout the Charlotte region, south Charlotte has something to offer for everyone when it comes to places of worship. You don’t have to live here long to hear about Calvary Church on Pineville-Matthews Road at Rea Road. Its soaring glass windows and pink stucco exterior are visible from miles away due to its hilltop setting. In contrast to this modern church is the centuries-old Providence Presbyterian Church south of I-485, whose historic cemetery has caused new roads to be rerouted.
South Charlotte is also home to Shalom Park on Providence Road, the center of Charlotte’s Jewish community. It includes Temple Beth El, a mainstream Reform synagogue; Temple Israel, a Conservative Jewish congregation and Charlotte’s oldest synagogue; and many Jewish organizations, including the Carolina Agency for Jewish Education and the Jewish Community Center.
South Charlotte is also served by branches of the city’s largest hospitals on either end of Pineville-Matthews Road. Carolinas HealthCare System’s CMC-Pineville is at the western end and is surrounded by numerous satellite offices of Charlotte medical clinics. To the east is Presbyterian Hospital Matthews.
You’ll find many of Charlotte’s private schools in the southern part of town. There are a number of options, including Charlotte Country Day, Charlotte Latin, Providence Day School, Charlotte Catholic High School and Charlotte Christian School.