DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- What some once saw as a rural area off the Durham Freeway is now sprouting as a mixed-use development.
"I like it. It's like a little mini city," Ellis Crossing resident Patsy Zeigler said.
The 30-acre mixed-use development off the Ellis Road exit is just 20 miles from downtown Raleigh and five miles from downtown Durham, making it ideally located between two of the fastest-growing cities in North Carolina, according to the developer, Thompson Thrift.
After Publix opened in March at the Marketplace at Ellis Crossing, the restaurant "It's A Southern Thing" soon followed with its expansion in October.
"It was just dirt," owner Pete Susca said. "The area just needed a good restaurant."
From downtown Durham to the outskirts of Durham County, Susca explained how business is different as the neighborhood spot on Ellis Road.
"We've already noticed in the month and a half that our to-go sales are actually 40% higher than they are downtown because of the neighborhoods that we're close to," Susca said.
While boomtowns such as the heart of the Bull City can experience growing pains, such as traffic congestion, Susca said there are growth challenges in the new location as well.
"We have the construction of so much with the giant apartment complexes, the infrastructure is what struggles," Susca said. "The Internet will go out because somebody hits a line, or the power will flash ... so that's been a little bit of a learning curve."
Some area residents welcomed growth but wondered how the county would meet demand as more people move in, such as affordable housing, education, and safety.
"They got to have some new schools," Zeigler said. "There are a lot of families out here, a lot of young children."
Thompson Thrift said road improvements are in place and are expected to further drive economic development in the area.
The space is still under development, according to the website, with 4,800 square feet available for lease next to Publix.