CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – This is a massive new park in Charlotte that you probably didn’t know existed. Until a few months ago, it was the domain of golfers.
Now, wagon trails are walking, running, and biking trails. Sand traps are large sandboxes. Water hazards are fishing holes.
The golf course that connects the office buildings to Ballantyne is now called Ballantyne’s Backyard. It is a park open to the public every day from dawn to dusk. One Saturday a month, it hosts a music, shopping, food and beer festival.
It opened in May. People like Grandma Susan Bartko just found him.
âI didn’t know it was until now. I mean, I go over it all the time to go to LA Fitness and my friend here told me about it, and I thought – let’s give it a try, âBartko said.
It is not a departmental park. The property still belongs to Northwood Office. This decision to close the golf course and open a park is part of a bigger plan.
It’s called Ballantyne Reinvented. The first phase of the plan will take about five years. We caught up with Hailey Rorie from Northwood to find out what’s next.
Jamie: Was it a tough decision to close a golf course like this?
Hailey: Some people were probably disappointed to see the golf course disappear, but now it’s really accessible to all walks of life and it’s really exciting. We really want to condition the community to get out and connect with nature, explore with their families, have a picnic, play, be inspired.
Jamie: You have events once a month, don’t you?
Hailey: Yes. Our inaugural 11-hour markets kicked off on May 8, and it’s an outdoor market. It is organized on the second Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The community can come and buy 40-50 small business vendors, have lunch at local food trucks, taste beers from local breweries, live music performances all day. So, it really is a vacation in Ballantyne. We’ve had a few so far.
Jamie: What did you see in numbers?
Hailey: The first event attracted 5,000 people, then that number doubled on June 12. It was therefore surprising to see the influx of positive reactions during these events, but also the diverse crowds who came to appreciate them.
Jamie: I saw children fishing, people walking their dogs, all of these trails are accessible. It was the way for the golf carts, wasn’t it?
Hailey: It’s correct. The existing cart tracks are now running and walking trails, the sand pits are now sandboxes for children. We have catch and release fishing. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Jamie: Let’s talk more long term here, what is the vision for this whole area. Because obviously the office space has kind of changed here over the last few years, and quite quickly. What do you want it to look like in five, ten years?
Hailey: It all just builds momentum towards Ballantyne Reimagined. The goal of this project is to create a more urban and pedestrian environment that creates a better life for everyone. We have a commitment to green spaces, so Northwood will create 10 parks. We will have an open outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate 3,500 people and is connected to the greenway. So we’re really excited about the opportunities there.
Jamie: Do you have to be competitive with other parts of the city? South Park, Southend and places like this have the ability to walk out of the office building and head straight for a restaurant for a bite to eat – that sort of thing?
Hailey: People want to connect with nature. They want everything to be more practical, more urban. They want to be productive in their day.
Jamie: It’s interesting because it was the suburbs, right? There was a certain lifestyle of what the suburbs used to be, but now people are coming back, as you’ve described, to a more urban feeling, to being able to walk. It’s a real change, isn’t it?
Hailey: Yes it is. But what we’re seeing with the trends among millennials, and even Gen Z, they’re starting to migrate further where they have more land, more storage for their kids, right? So being able to create experiences that make sense here, so that they don’t have to go to posh neighborhoods or the South End, is really special.
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