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It shouldn’t be hard to imagine the outskirts of Charlotte, N.C., back in the 1960s. If you longed to escape the urban confines of the Queen City, a short drive would have placed you alongside the familiar fields and pastures of the quiet, North Carolina countryside. Northeast of the city you would have found a typical rural setting, another large expanse of thriving farmlands.
Fast-forward 55 years, and today that same northeastern stretch of the Mecklenburg County map has been completely transformed. The area is still thriving, but in a new and exciting way. Half a century ago visionaries conceived a plan to transform those farmlands into University City, a community just 10 miles from Charlotte’s Uptown that has, over time, grown strong enough to stand on its own merits. Identified mostly in the past by UNC Charlotte and the University Research Park (URP), those building blocks served as a foundation for a surge in population that now transcends those two institutions.
Today, if University City were separated from Charlotte, it would be the sixth largest city in North Carolina. That’s a fairly substantial growth rate for only 55 years of existence. University City is Charlotte’s second largest employment center with 75,000 employees and 11 million sq. ft. of office space. Twenty three Fortune 500 companies are represented, and three companies are headquarter locations.
Branching out from the intersection of W.T. Harris Boulevard and North Tryon — the nexus of University City — the local community has exploded to more than 160,000 residents, and a strong infrastructure has developed right along with them. With countless amenities the area has become a haven to these residents and also a comfortable locale for the thousands of commuters who are employed there with companies large and small.
University City has evolved over the years. But if you’re ever heading northeast of Charlotte, still hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, have no fear: you’ll still find plenty of green space there, and that pastoral setting you’re looking for is probably right around the corner.
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