KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Town of Knightdale has seen its population almost double since 2010. Officials say people started coming in droves after the pandemic and that hypergrowth really hasn't slowed down since.
When Jessica Day was growing up in Knightdale in the late 1980's, there were about 1,500 residents. She says there was only a handful of restaurants and no high school the town could call its own. Students were shipped over to Raleigh to receive their diploma.
Now, as the town's Mayor, Day couldn't be more shocked or proud of how much Knightdale has grown.
There are shopping centers filled with big box stores in areas she remembers wide-open fields.
"I would not have ever thought that would be in walking distance to my house," said Day.
Knightdale has been focusing these last few years on economic development to meet demand.
The latest Census data shows there are more than 19,000 residents. The population has soared more than 70% from April 2010.
Day says for a long time, Knightdale was a bedroom community, but that is changing.
"The goal is that you leave Knightdale because you want to leave, not because you have to," she said. "So before you had to (go to Raleigh). "Your doctor's office or your dentist's office or any of those things - you had to go into Raleigh for any of that."
Talks are underway to redo the town's comprehensive plan.
The downtown is getting a refresh and here are some options being considered. The original one burned down in the 1940s and there hasn't been an effort to rebuild since then.
Knightdale is working with a developer on the mixed-used project being called Downtown North at Knightdale Station.
It will include some housing, which could be single-family homes and townhouses.
There are plans for a new community park, public plaza, and art.
The town is preparing for even more growth.
Leaders recently approved a little less than 8,000 new housing units to be built.
"We could see ourselves double again within the next ten years," said Knightdale Development Services Director Jason Brown.
And with that comes the need for more affordable housing for future generations.
"We are very diverse. We're a very inclusive community, and we want to make sure that we continue that diversity, that we have a space for everyone here in Knightdale," said Day.
Knightdale is working with Wake County to bring more of those affordable housing options to the table.