Once sleepy and rural, Union County – southeast of Charlotte – today is the fastest-growing county in the metro area and the 19th-fastest-growing county in the nation. Today, Union County’s population is estimated at more than 163,000 but that number is expected to grow another 33 percent by 2020.
The county has many thriving communities, including Monroe, the county seat, and an intriguing blend of past and present. It’s home to highly regarded Wingate University, a private institution, and the West Campus of South Piedmont Community College in a new location on Old Charlotte Highway.
If you’re a Charlotte-area newcomer looking to live in Union, chances are you’re most interested in the western end of the county, along the county line close to Mecklenburg’s I-485 outerbelt. Growth has been so rapid in this area that the Union County school system has opened new elementary, middle and high schools in the area.
With about 8,500 residents, Weddington is primarily residential and wealthy. The “town center” is Weddington Corners shopping center. Charlotte’s Siskey Family YMCA – on Weddington Road in Matthews, less than a mile from Union County – includes a pool and water park, jogging track and other amenities.
Lake Forest Preserve in Weddington features homes starting at over 4,000 square feet and priced from the mid-$500s to the $700s.
Most of Marvin’s 1,400 residents moved here for the country atmosphere and homes with acreage. But there’s new construction too; look along Marvin-Weddington Road and Joe Kerr Road. Marvin Creek offers luxury homes from the $500s to the $700s. From Marvin going south to Waxhaw and beyond is horse country, a great place to look for acreage if you want to keep and ride horses.
Waxhaw takes its name from the Waxhaws, the Indian tribe that once inhabited the area. The town is known for its antiques, gift shops and galleries. Among Waxhaw’s new developments are Weddington Chase, with homes from $580,000 to $750,000; Quellin, with homes starting in the $330s up to $600,000; and The Reserve, with homes from the $300s to the $500s.
Wesley Chapel, at N.C. 84 and Potter Road between Weddington and Monroe, incorporated in 1998 around a century-old community. With 3,400 residents, it has a historic Methodist church site, an elementary school and lots of rolling green countryside. Champion Forest features homes from $450,000 to $550,000, and homes at Lindenwood range from the $300s to the $400s.
On N.C. 75 between Waxhaw and Monroe, Mineral Springs is known for the Queens Cup Steeplechase in April, which brings 20,000 people to Brooklandwood.
Stallings abuts the Mecklenburg County line along the U.S. 74 corridor. A quiet bedroom community of 3,900, the town has been growing fast, attracting residents who like its small-town image but also the quick travel time, via the outerbelt/Independence Boulevard to Charlotte and beyond.
Indian Trail, which began as an outpost along an Indian trading trail, is also growing fast. With 16,500 residents, Indian Trail is implementing its Downtown Vision Plan for a pedestrian-friendly town center with shops, restaurants and residential units. For new homes, check out Colton Ridge, with homes in the high $200s.
Lake Park, a subdivision off Unionville-Indian Trail Road that incorporated, is an example of “new urbanism,” or using design to help foster a feeling of community. In this village of about 2,600 residents, you’ll find townhomes and single-family homes, festivals, a shopping center and a private Christian school.
Hemby Bridge, a community of 1,700 that strives to retain some of its rural tradition, adjoins Mecklenburg east of U.S. 74 along Secrest Short Cut Road. Unionville, which also honors its rural roots, is north of Monroe on U.S. 601.
County seat Monroe, formed in 1844 and named for President James Monroe, is an intriguing blend of past and present, with its lovely old restored buildings downtown and its bustling shopping strip, airport and industrial parks. It’s the county’s largest city, with more than 30,000 people. Bridgewater and Old Gate are new developments with homes from the $300s to $450,000.
One of Union County’s gems is 1,050-acre Cane Creek Park in Waxhaw. The park surrounds a 350-acre trophy bass lake – one of three trophy bass lakes in North Carolina. Cane Creek also includes seven miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, boat rentals, ball fields and playgrounds.