Signs of change: In NC’s rapidly growing Triangle, here are five places to watch in 2022

Travis Long/tlong@newsobserver.com
·2 min read

Triangle growth across several sectors is set to accelerate in 2022, introducing new opportunities and stiffening familiar challenges.

Among the country’s most populous regions, “Raleigh-Cary” ranks third behind Austin and Phoenix for fastest growing metro areas, according to 2020 Census data. Measured over 10 years from 2010 to 2019, Raleigh takes second place, according to Carolina Demography. The city and its surroundings swelled by 23% in the past decade, and its steepening trajectory portends ongoing growth.

Triangle residents don’t need statistics to verify what they see around them. Aggressive development is everywhere. But five locations stand out for the significant change they’re expected to undergo by year’s end.

The News & Observer evaluated areas across the greater Triangle region to isolate those with the most imminent and appreciable consequences for life in Raleigh, Durham, Cary and the expanding region.

Our final five cover transportation, economic development, real estate and recreation. They will change life for longtime residents, attract a host of newcomers and galvanize international interest in the Triangle. They range from Dix Park at the heart of Raleigh to tiny Moncure 30 miles to the southwest — 30 miles of countryside already rapidly filling with the next generation of planned-development homes.

“There are just so many projects going on,” Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said. “And I think a lot is going to feed off each other.”

Since the 1960s, North Carolina has asserted itself as a hub of technology and innovation. In recent years, it has become known for its life sciences ecosystem of research universities, agri-science inventions and gene therapy startups. Recent commitments from major companies across several industries have burnished the area’s reputation.

“When you think about Google, Apple, Toyota — big companies that have vetted this area and decided to be here, it says something,” Michael Smith, president of the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, said. “It tells other companies this is a great place to be.”

But an infusion of new money threatens some vulnerable communities. Gentrification is forcing lower-income residents out of their homes and disadvantaging diverse populations.

“All this new stuff coming in looks nice,” said Mike Melvin, a longtime Raleighite forced to move in search of affordable rent. “But there’s nowhere to go anymore. If you find a place, it’s double the rent you had.”

New development brings fresh opportunities, but it can dismantle longtime institutions and neighborhoods. The N&O’s “Five Places to Watch” demonstrate the good and bad inherent in such change. Read on to learn more.

News & Observer readers: Click here for Part One.

Durham Herald-Sun readers: Click here for Part One.

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