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Zip Codes: Chatham County

By Jane Paige


Ginny Sharpless was looking for a vibrant community close to work and to school for her family in Chatham County. And, she found it in Briar Chapel, one of the many new neighborhoods springing up in the northeastern part of the county.

Folk Art

“Folk Art.” Photo by Fearrington Village, courtesy of Pittsboro-Siler City CVB.

“I think this is one of the best neighborhoods in the entire Triangle area,” says the mother of two young daughters. “I wanted an active community with walking trails and a pool that was close to my office and good schools. I have it all here.”

Sharpless is one of many new residents who are moving to the numerous upscale neighborhoods in Chatham County. Located in the center of the state, the county maintains an eclectic blend of rural charm accented with a vibrant artists’ community and a surge of new neighborhoods.

Nestled within easy driving distance from most places in the Triangle, the county quietly has become a magnet for all types of artists who are seeking a more rural lifestyle still close to larger cities. More than 400 artists are members of the Chatham County Arts Council.

The Penninsula at Amberly

The Penninsula at Amberly is one of Cary’s best kept secrets..

At the same time, the northeastern part of the county has seen a dramatic increase in population due to residential growth near Chapel Hill, Durham and Cary.

“Chatham County has seen a lot of exciting growth at just the right pace for our community,” says Neha Shah, director of the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Many artists and new residents are attracted to the area and this has been very good for the entire county.”

Founded in 1771, Chatham County today has an estimated 60,895 residents. Pittsboro serves as the county seat with quaint shops and restaurants located near the courthouse in a district that is listed on the National Historic Register.

Known for its vibrant artists’ community, Chatham County’s Arts Council sponsors the annual studio arts tour the first two weekends in December, which featured 57 artists last year.

While artists add to the charm and uniqueness of the county, one of the most famous attractions that greets newcomers are the black cows featuring wide white stripes around their middles, known as “Belties.”

With more than 1,000 acres in Pittsboro, the community, Chapel Ridge, will have 849 homesites when complete and will consist of single family homes. All the residents can purchase their site and then have the flexibility to select a custom home builder. Chapel Ridge is being developed by Bluegreen Communities®, a division of Bluegreen Corporation. Amenities include an 18-hole Fred Couples Signature golf course, clubhouse, tennis center, fitness center and athletic fields.

Fearrington Village

In Front of Fearrington House during the annual Folk Art
Festival held each February a festival worker sits in front of
Black and White “Oreo Cows.” These cows are Belted Galloways,
a rare breed of Scottish beef cattle that were introduced to
the United States back in the 1950’s. There are now over
30 Belties grazing the rolling pastures at Fearrington Village
whose sole purpose is to greet village guests and coax a smile
(and a picture or two!). Photo by Fearrington Village,
Courtesy of Pittsboro-Siler City CVB.

Fearrington Village, located about eight miles south of Chapel Hill, blends elegant lodging, upscale dining, unique shopping, a planned residential community and gardens on the site of an 18th-century dairy farm.

Internationally recognized, the Fearrington House Country Inn and Restaurant is a recipient of AAA's prestigious Five Diamond Award and Exxon Mobil's Five Stars - the only establishment in North Carolina to receive both accolades.

“Fearrington is just like a European village dropped right down in Chatham County,” says Shah. “The entire property has a dressy, country-gentleman air about it.”

Many of the new residential communities in Chatham county are located near Fearrington Village in the northeastern part of the county.

Briar Chapel, being developed by Newland Communities, is the Triangle’s largest “green” community. Located off Highway 15-501, the neighborhood features 1,600 acres and will have 2,600 homes when completed in several years. Homes range in price from $200,000 to $600,000, says Kristy Yule, vice president of marketing for Newland Communities.

“We have a wide variety of unique amenities such as 24 miles of walking trails, original artwork on display and a green setting,” she says. The model home village was featured as part of the Green Home Builders of the Triangle’s Green Home Tour in late April.

Briar Chapel

The Briar Chapel pool is a cool spot on hot summer days.

Also in the area near Fearrington is Baldwin Peak, a neighborhood being developed by Turnberry Development with a team of area builders. Located on 300 acres, the gated, luxury community will feature just 28 sites for estate homes starting in the $1.5 million range.

“We have been seeing a lot of interest in Baldwin Peak,” says Kim Smith with Coldwell Banker Advantage. “The infrastructure is now being complete and we are excited about the custom homes in this beautiful wooded setting.”

In the same area of Chatham County is The Hamptons, being developed by Windjam Development Group. A 182-acre community with large, wooded lots, the first phase is now under construction. Home prices start at $1.35 million on lots as large as six acres.

The Hamptons

The Hamptons Community features lots as large as 6 acres.

“Our location is close to Chapel Hill, but right in the natural setting of Chatham County,” says Rex Vick Jr., president and CEO of Windjam Development.

Another special attraction for the new residents of Chatham County is the Carnivore Preservation Trust located on Hanks Chapel Road near Jordan Lake and Haw River. Founded in 1981, the 55-acre compound is home to about 140 animals representing 11 species of threatened and endangered carnivores from around the world.

Bike and hiking trails are also popular at nearby Jordan Lake, a 3,900-acre reservoir in Wake and Chatham counties. The lake offers boating, camping, fishing, swimming and a full-service commercial marina. It is also the largest summertime home of the bald eagle in the Eastern United States.

“Jordan Lake was named one of the top 10 urban birding areas in the nation,” says Shah. “With more than 200 bike trails, this is a great outdoor area for people as well.”

JANE PAIGE IS A FREELANCE WRITER