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Settled between the hustle and bustle of Wilmington and Southport lies the sleepier community of Mallory Creek Plantation, tucked within Leland’s sound borders. While not as immersed in the nightlife and tourist attractions as some of its neighbors, some of the locals prefer the more sedate speed set by a thriving small town.

“It’s the people,” says Nicole Yates, a denizen of the town since childhood and a hygienist in Dr. Hunter Pierce’s office. “When I grew up here, I had a small-knit community that I really enjoyed, and I see it now, too.”

William and Nicole YatesThe Yates have lived in Leland for a long time. Nicole’s family (her parents and grandparents) have always called Leland home, at least as far as she can recall.

For his part, William – an operations manager with the state port – owns to a more spread out clan, but says he does not mind the minor distance to his relatives when combined with the enticements of his home in Leland.

When they started a life together, William and Nicole decided to stay in Leland.

“Nature will always get me in the area,” William says. “I always recommend the river and the outdoor activities there, if that’s the kind of thing someone new to the area might be interested in.”

Some of these activities include the Bellville Riverwalk, he says, which is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Additionally, Leland boasts a burgeoning parks and recreation department, one that William says has grown in the last few years to accommodate the citizens of the town and its increasing commerce. Near the community lies Brunswick Nature Park, abundant with walking trails and kayak launches, as well as Riverfront Park and its opportunities for fishing from its scenic pier.

Though previously inclined to reside in the town’s more rural areas, the Yates decided to take a chance on Mallory Creek Plantations in order to remain close to Nicole’s family.

Mallory Creek Plantations has increasingly drawn families like the Yates to its neighborhood, resulting in more houses popping up with alacrity, William says. Having been more accustomed to a rural setting for their home lives, the Yates were at first somewhat wary of joining a subdivision with a homeowner’s association.

“I was afraid we would encounter the ‘get off my lawn’ kind of people,” William jokes. “But we were pleasantly surprised, so far everyone’s brought in that sense of community we didn’t want to lose.”

The Yates have a thirteen-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter and when they relocated to Mallory Creek Plantations, (which has a competition-sized swimming pool and clubhouse) it was quite the contrast to the Leland that Nicole and William grew up in, they say.

“There used to be one stoplight,” William says. “And because everyone knew everybody else, you pretty much knew exactly who you passed whenever you drove through the intersection.”

The hometown familiarity remains, Nicole says, in spite of the community’s ever-present expansion and bleeds over into the subdivision.

“Mallory Creek has a lot of different people looking for a quiet neighborhood, even if they didn’t grow up around here,” Nicole says. “Our street arranges get-togethers, and we all have a great time together with block parties like the one we had for the Fourth of July.”

The section of the community in which the Yates live is still up and coming, Nicole says, with new homes being built even since they moved into the neighborhood. As the houses continue to be built, William says the street mates tend to band together to keep a tight-knit community formed.

As such, their new neighbors treated the Yates to numerous block parties, street events, and more in the last months, solidifying the sense that Mallory Creek Plantations is a community in and of itself.

“Eleven houses have come up since we moved in last year,” Nicole says. “But it still has that small town feeling, and we’re glad it hasn’t changed so much as that.”

As the Town of Leland continues to expand its commerce and local attractions, families like the Yates may yet see more changes to their home. For them, it is mostly welcome advancement, William says.

“There’s just so much potential here,” he says, with an echo of agreement from Nicole. “I think we’re just seeing the first of it.”

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Katelynn is a writer, digital media specialist for Sage Island, and grad student with Emerson College. She moved to Wilmington January 2017 to seek new career and educational prospects: in addition to more sunshine and salt air, of course. Relocating from Asheville, NC (where she completed her BA in Mass Communications at UNC-Asheville), Katelynn had the opportunity to work with nonprofits like LEAF Community Arts and to write for esteemed regional publication, WNC magazine. Since arriving in Wilmington, she’s been published by North Brunswick Magazine, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and Cape Fear Living. In her spare time, Katelynn enjoys diving into a good book or working on one of her own passion projects. Following these interests, she began working toward her MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing September 2017 through Emerson College’s online educational program. She enjoys traveling whenever possible, and would often be found at concerts, movies, or theatrical productions if her schedule would more often permit. A fan of animals, Katelynn enjoys the company of two cats: Millie and Sunny. All three are willing taste-testers for her husband, Bobby’s culinary experiments, both professional and recreational.

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