In case you haven’t read the article, Andrew Dys, wrote a fantastic piece on the attraction of Baxter Village in Fort Mill and the positive impact it has had on the local economy in York County,SC the past decade since it’s inception. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did, enjoy! -posted by Debbie Hooker
FORT MILL, S.C. About 5 percent of York County’s 61,000-plus population boom can be seen from one great spot: Jeff Miller’s front porch on Market Street, in what certainly is the poster child place for York County growth – Baxter Village.
So Thursday, that is exactly what Miller did: He sat on the front porch, coffee and cellphone in hand, smile on his face, content in a place that a decade before was a cow pasture.
Miller looked at the Baxter Village residential-commercial expanse with its big, beautiful homes built specifically to look like an old town, the houses close together, surrounded by tiny, manicured lawns that require almost no maintenance.
Miller, in his 40s with a wife and kids, was raised in Ohio, came to rural York County after college more than 20 years ago, and found “country.”
But six years ago, instead of buying a house in Charlotte close to his office near SouthPark, Miller bought a big house on Market Street – the main drag of Baxter. A main drag with a speed limit of 15 mph.
“The school is down the street, the park is across the street, there are places to get a cup of coffee and something to eat right here in sight,” Miller said.
“The YMCA is here. The highway is right over there – I can be in downtown Charlotte for anything I want, sports, events, whatever, in almost no time. Fifteen minutes, tops. This is the best of all worlds right here.”
A decade ago, Baxter Village was barely a vision with just a few houses built. Now it is almost an entire town – although it isn’t even in a town.
Nestled along the western side of Interstate 77 at Exit 85 where the Springs-Close family for decades raised cattle and peaches, Baxter is an incredible 1,239 occupied homes that sprang up in the last decade.
Many more homes are under construction. Using a conservative formula of 2.5 people per house, Baxter alone has added more than 3,000 people to an area that a decade earlier had almost no people.
The county added about 61,000 people in the last decade, according to the census, and when Baxter is busy, it seems like all of those 61,000 people are right there in one spot.
And they all seem to be smiling.
Although not all residents came from other states to Baxter, most did, said James Traynor, president of Clear Springs Development, which took Baxter from cow patties and peaches to a postcard for modern suburbia.
Yet Baxter is not in the town of Fort Mill. It is in unincorporated York County. Baxter Village is now a place, a destination, where a decade before it almost did not exist.
“We had just started a decade ago, but it is fair to say that back then, when the last census was taken in 2000, there was no ‘here’ here,” Traynor said.
Baxter is exactly why people have flocked to York County by the thousands over the past decade: proximity to Charlotte and the money to be made there in the financial and related industries coupled with quality of life in York County.
York County brags that it beats Charlotte with lower taxes, more property for the buck, top-flight public schools, and more.
But Baxter isn’t just a subdivision. There are more than 120 businesses in Baxter alone. Plus, across busy S.C. 160 from Baxter, dozens more businesses have popped up to serve those new residents of Baxter. Inside Baxter, there are medical and law offices, places to have nails and hair done, shoes shined and bikini lines waxed, get shirts pressed, learn dance moves or piano concertos, eat Asian, American, Italian or English pub food. One can even have a martini or sit at a wine bar in Baxter, or buy a chocolate dipped strawberry.
Can Baxter be the perfect place – the postcard for the suburban census boom in America – right here in York County?
From his perch on Market Street just down from the restaurants and shops, Miller said it is. Baxter is, he said, “great.”
“I live near the historic district of Baxter, too,” Miller joked. “Those people down the street have been here eight years – the old-timers.”
On Baxter streets, South Carolina and American flags fly from homes, but the next house might boast a Philadelphia Flyers or West Virginia Mountaineers flag. Michigan and Ohio State and Penn State sports decals are on cars and homes that belong to other refugees from the snow and rust of the Northeast or Midwest that has taxed itself into oblivion and sent so many jobs, and people, to this area.
Jim and Gail Slovern, transplants to York County seven years ago from Maryland, ate lunch in Baxter Village on Thursday at busy Peppers deli, a stone’s throw from Jeff Miller’s front porch.
The Sloverns, who live in Lake Wylie – which almost tripled in population itself in the past decade to almost 9,000 people south of the Buster Boyd Bridge – came to York County like so many thousands of others: to work in Charlotte.
But the Sloverns said the best choice for living was here, in York County.
Jim Slovern now has his office across S.C. 160 from Baxter – part of that Baxter offshoot boom.
“Baxter is great,” Gail Slovern said. “I would think anybody moving to this area would look here first. It has everything.”
Baxter boasts Fort Mill’s branch of the York County Library, a sheriff’s office substation, sidewalks for walking and running and the ubiquitous leashed dogs of suburbia. It also has that nonflashing sign of American success and population growth: a Starbucks coffee shop.
Yet even caffeinated, Baxter has a pace so slow, life seems like a crawl.
But that is what brings people to Baxter: There is almost no crime. Work is in Charlotte – Baxter is quiet, and slow, and home.
The gas stations and convenience stores and grocery store are across S.C. 160, as is the big Lowe’s home improvement store and so much more.
Sure, the houses all sell for $250,000 and up – way up. And you can’t buy cigarettes or a lottery ticket anywhere in Baxter Village.
“I never thought about that,” laughed Miller on his front porch, “but I don’t buy those things, either. It has never come up here that I can remember, not being able to buy a lottery ticket in Baxter.”
Maybe because many there in Baxter Village, more than 3,000 people in a place that a decade ago had cow troughs instead of a wine bar, might feel like they already won the lottery.