With exponential growth happening in Charlotte and her surrounding towns and counties, one county in particular has been somewhat insulated from that boom. Gaston County, sitting just West of Mecklenburg, has seen only an 8.1% population growth over the last eight years. That’s about half of similarly sized neighboring counties of York, Lancaster, Cabarrus, and Union. Experts are saying that calm won’t last much longer.
Leaders among Gaston County have seen the writing on the wall for many years. They’ve watched other places grow and have known that the growth would eventually reach them. Major city plans have been going on for almost a decade to position Gaston County as the next up-and-coming Charlotte suburb.
Positioning Themselves as The Next ‘Big One’…
As reported by the Charlotte Business Journal, many steps are being taken to make Gaston County easily accessible to Charlotte residents. Long known as a sleeping commuter county, towns throughout Gaston County will soon have faster access to Charlotte and all the jobs therin. For example, The Charlotte Metropolitan Transit Commission approved plans to extend light rail service to Belmont by 2030, and possibly to Gastonia. This would, as the CBJ says, open up high-density development opportunities along the corridor that would have direct light rail access to both the airport and Uptown.
Portions of I-85 will be widened throughout the county. The Gastonia Municipal Airport is considering expansion. Also, a feasibility study is being conducted regarding adding another bridge crossing across the Catawba River and into Mecklenburg County.
In addition to infrastructure, there have been extensive investments in job creation, entertainment districts, education referendums, and arts & culture. As Jeff Michael, director of the UNC-Charlotte Urban Institute, says of Gaston County, the “sleeping giant is waking up.”
All of these options make it so that you can work in the city but enjoy a quieter, less expensive life in the suburbs. Commutes are easy, prices are lower, and there’s more space. Gaston County leaders have seen it for years– do you?
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