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Whatever happened to Hardy Parker?

Ben Steelman
StarNews

At last report, Hardy Parker Jr. lives near Chinquapin, in Duplin County, where the family owns a farm. He serves on the N.C. Forestry Advisory Council.

For many years, Parker operated Oak Ridge Farm, commonly called “the Hardy Parker Farm,” a tract of some 394 acres on the west side of Military Cutoff, across from what is now Landfall. This property was actually owned by Parker’s mother, Mabel Weeks of Raleigh. The farm, along with some smaller tracts owned by Mrs. Weeks and the Parker family, was the last holdout from development along Military Cutoff. In March 2000, however, Mrs. Weeks sold 301.35 acres of the farm, for a reported $9.95 million, to developer H.J. Brody of Greenville and his partners Herbert and Jeffrey Zimmer of Wilmington. The tract became the core of the massive Mayfaire Town Center commercial and residential development.

Parker had resisted developing the property for many years. “I like it like it is, and my family likes it like it is,” he told Star-News reporter Philip Hervey in 1996. “If money was important to us, this place would’ve been sold a long time ago, and we’d all be gone.”

However, Parker added in the same interview, “Sooner or later, they’ll force us to do something. It’ll get to the point it’ll be too expensive to stay here.”

That point, in the opinion of many observers, came in August 1998, when New Hanover County Commissioners reversed a decade-long policy and voted 4-1 to rezone 85 acres near the farm for office and institutional use. In December 1999, Mrs. Weeks announced she had entered negotiations to sell the Oak Ridge Farm with Brody and the Zimmers.

 

User-contributed question by:
Kathy Kaiser

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