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Apex, Holly Springs Among Top Great American Towns

Posted July 16, 2007

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— Everywhere you look in downtown Apex, you find the slogan, "the peak of good living."

There are things to do -- places to go and shop -- and the town's facilities are fairly new.

Home to about 33,000 people, the town, however, is not so small. People who live there say it is the best of both worlds -- a small-town life with some big-town amenities.

The town recently came in at No. 14 on Money Magazine's recent ranking of the 100 best places to live in the United States, making it the highest-ranking town in North Carolina. Behind it is Holly Springs at No. 22 and Mooresville in Iredell County at No. 65.

Town leaders say affordable housing -- the median home price is just under $250,000 (compared to other towns on the list in which the median price is around $1 million) -- and a low crime rate contribute to the town's allure.

"I think that if you can have one of the lowest incidents of crime in the country that people take great comfort in that," Apex Town Manager Bruce Radford said, adding the rate of crime is two incidents per 1,000 residents. The average in the study was 13 per 1,000 residents.

"It's kind of like Mayberry," Apex resident Erin Donovan said. "You walk downtown, you see people. You talk to people."

So much so that Kim Wall and her family moved to Apex to start an ice cream business.

"We just really liked it," Wall said. "It felt like home."

The magazine also points out that Apex is full of scenery and mentioned that its most striking area is the Downtown Historic District. It also pointed out the town's rapid growth was a serious issue.

The appeal of both Apex and Holly Springs is no secret if you look at the growth of both towns. Since 1990, the number of people living in Apex has increased by more than 28,000, town leaders say. Holly Springs has grown from 900 residents in 1990 to nearly 20,000 today.

"Today, we're at 20,000 and moving in three families every day," Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears said. "It's just been incredible."

New business and new home construction are its hallmarks, according to the Money Magazine report.

Sears cites drug company Novartis's decision last year to build a new influenza vaccine plant that is expected to bring 350 new jobs and invest at least $267.5 million over the next five years.

And, for example, crews are also building 1,300 new homes in the Twelve Oaks Subdivision on New Hill Road, which includes a golf course and two community pools. Construction is expected to be complete by the fall.

Sears said the key to smart growth is understanding resources.

"Water -- we're good. We get our water from Cape Fear. Sewer -- we're good," Sears said. "Roads -- constant challenge -- but we're working on it every day."

For this year's list, Money Magazine focused on smaller municipalities, offering what it considers the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do and a real sense of community.

The magazine named Middleton, Wisc. at the top place to live, followed by Hanover, N.H. and Louisville, Colo. Lake Mary, Fla. and Claremont, Calif. rounded out the top five.

Back in North Carolina, No. 65 Mooresville, because it is the headquarters for more than 60 professional auto-racing teams. Tourism has also become a major draw, with Lake Norman being one of the region's most popular destinations.

89 Comments

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  • NC is my home Jul 18, 4:48 p.m.

    Interesting the Yankees want those of us who built this area to move! The solution is to have newcomers pledge allegiance to NC & invoke a "Yankee Tax". If you weren't born here, then you must pay extra for the building of new roads, etc. I see far too many out of state licence tags everyday for workers who are living here, but not paying their share! They want a free ride. Also if a child was not born here, the parents should pay tuition for their education. It's just like the grab-everything Yankees to want us to move out after we built it up! But then, our family's heirloom silver is with some Yankee after they took everything we had! The War Between the States is the only conflict American has been a part of that it never helped rebuild after the war was over. But then, it wasn't really about anyone's freedom--just that the states were losing their rights! When western NC wanted to succeed from NC, we let them. That area is now eastern TN! Yankee go home!

  • lahnee42 Jul 17, 6:51 p.m.

    So sick of hearing it's all the Yankees fault, get over it! There are people from all over down there and if Wake didn't want it, you mean to tell me they couldn't have put a moratorium on building? Or create zoning laws to prevent urban sprawl? Bull. Wake County spent too much time in LaLa land and now they're paying the price.

  • jhnewman Jul 17, 4:28 p.m.

    Allah Akhbar! Thank you so much for pointing out the areas that are not used to crime (not ready for real violence). Thank you for pointing out the crowded schools (they are so much fun for us!). See you soon! signed: Mohamed Ali Gonnagetchu

  • new2apexnc Jul 17, 4:26 p.m.

    Southern hospitality at it's finest!!

    Perhaps you should get over it or move away, that solution will work for you as well as the "inferior" yankees moving into the area. Not everyone from the north is rude, there are plenty of rude locals – such as yourself.

    Have a nice day!!

  • Fandemonium Jul 17, 4:21 p.m.

    "yankees" moving here are making it a better place to live." Nope - increased traffic, taxes, overcrowded schools, crime, pollution, trash does not make up for a few pizza and bagel joints.

  • NC is my home Jul 17, 2:48 p.m.

    Apex has been a wonderful place for decades. It has been a town with Southern charm and warmth. However, Apex saw its true peak in the '40's, '50's & '60's. As North Carolina becomes overpopulated, Apex, like a lot of our towns, is losing their identity. It's sad that people leave somewhere inferior and bring down the place to where they moved. The difference comes from our forefathers not taking away, but contributing to the society. Currently what's been put into our towns is not exactly what we want--over-crowding of our schools & roads, drivers who are rude & ignorant of our laws, more indigent, more crime--not the abundant life for which our forefathers sacrificed! We don't want a "little piece of NY" in NC. We want North Carolina to remain North Carolina.

  • new2apexnc Jul 17, 1:36 p.m.

    Actually it's the opposite, "yankees" moving here are making it a better place to live.

  • smegma Jul 17, 1:09 p.m.

    You yankees really are coming down here and destroying this gorgeous place. From politics to overcrowding, to ridiculous taxes. It's no wonder you never ever meet anyone originally from here anymore. I'm the only one left!

  • raptor101 Jul 17, 11:21 a.m.

    APEX... Land of the Sheep!!!

  • What The Deuce Jul 17, 10:30 a.m.

    Most of you people will never be happy with anything in life because you have turned yourselves into miserable human beings. What a horrible way to live.

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