I really do enjoy where I live here in Chatham County, just outside of Pittsboro, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful and beautifully rural area, but it is also very close to the Research Triangle Park. I’m able to live on a farm where I can’t see my neighbors, but I am an easy ride away from several cool cities as well as the airport.
This came in handy last night.
Back in 2006 we got an order for a Greenlight project from Brigham Young University. I was the lucky one to take the call, since the on-site work was scheduled for their Hawaii campus and I got first shot at the trip. I had an amazing time and still have fond memories of both Hawaii and the customer.
It turns out that the main person I worked with there has taken a job with IBM and happened to be in town. We were able to get together for dinner, and we spent a couple of hours catching up.
This morning I got a note from another friend, someone I’ve known for over 20 years but haven’t seen in almost ten, and she’s coming to the area soon as well. She lives in Australia, so it’s not just a “stopping by” kind of trip.
Suddenly, it seems like this area is a hotbed for business travel.
One of the anchors of tech in the area is SAS Institute in Cary. It’s founder, Jim Goodnight, is also real estate developer through his Preston company. For the last ten years he has been buying up land in Chatham County – lots of land. No one was really sure what his plans were.
Many years ago in another life I did a two week OpenView install at SAS. It’s a really cool place to work. I even had lunch with Goodnight. Well, I was on the balcony upstairs in the dining room and he was downstairs, but it was lunch time and we were both eating in the same room, so it counts (grin).
Yesterday, David sent me a link to this video which details the impressive goals of “Chatham Park”.
I have mixed feelings about this. While I’d love for Google to come and snatch up 800 acres for a new campus, I’m certain that would bring huge changes to the area. Plus, we as a community can barely provide services for the people here now – there would need to be major upgrades to the infrastructure, especially water and water treatment. I get my water out of the ground, and it is amazingly clean and tasty, and I would hate for development to stress the aquifer (or any of the proposed fracking projects to gain momentum).
Finally, my understanding of the developments done by Preston in the past they’ve been very focused on housing, golf courses and shopping – not business. I definitely do not want Chatham to become another bedroom community for RTP, and the focus on location in the video seems to imply that housing will be a larger selling point than trying to land a large technology campus.
But I’ll withhold judgment until I see how it plays out. In this economy things will move slowly enough, but I do care what happens here – more so than any other place I’ve lived – so I am hoping for the best.