You can drive to Fayetteville NC from Chapel Hill in a little over an hour. It is the home of the large army base Fort Bragg and is a very different place than Chapel Hill. You can sense a different worldview. Following my urbanist tendencies, I headed downtown, looking for a place to park the car for a few hours while I took a bike ride. I found a space downtown at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.
Fayetteville is actually one of the oldest cities in North Carolina. The vast majority of neighborhoods in this city of 200,000 consist of miles and miles of disconnected housing developments and strip malls. Even on a Sunday when traffic is light, bicycling from place to place is difficult. But the immediate downtown is O.K. I have come here to bicycle several times in the past twenty years, and I have watched as the city has successfully fixed up downtown buildings, and more recently, in finding service businesses to fill up the mostly empty spaces. There is some nice mid-century lettering, even if the original businesses no longer exist.
Market House dates from 1832.
Not that many years ago someone renovated and reopened the Prince Charles Hotel but the business only lasted a few years. According to the Fayetteville Observer, a Durham developer bought the vacant building in late 2014 for only $ 200,000.00, It is now abandoned and waiting for its new owner to make something happen. Criminally, the Republican state legislature recently cancelled tax credits for historic properties, which makes such renovations much less attractive.
One can only bicycle around the ten or fifteen blocks of downtown Fayetteville for so long. So, I chose as a destination the small town of Parkton, fifteen miles to the south, and bicycled down there and back. Much of the way it was a singularly unpleasant bike ride, in that streets of one subdivision are unconnected to streets other subdivisions, and a bicyclist is constantly being forced back onto major highways.
Eventually things opened up and I was bicycling on small country roads through open fields. There are some hills in the city of Fayetteville but once out near Parkton, the land flattens out in the Down East coastal plain.
Parkton is a pretty small place. It does have two actual operating retail businesses, one of which is a Family Dollar. I was surprised they have their own police department. With their three police cars I thought of Mayberry.
On the way back to downtown Fayetteville new housing developments spring from the flat plain like weeds.