Hoffner family sole bidders for Second Creek land

  • Posted: Saturday, January 5, 2013 12:53 a.m.

KANNAPOLIS — Following the Dec. 31 deadline for upset bids, Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said no other qualifying offers had been received for the final 191-acre parcel of city-owned Second Creek land.

On December 10, the Kannapolis City Council started the bidding process by accepting the initial bid of $602,000 made by farmer Chris Hoffner and investor Wendy Biggs-Ratcliffe, facilitated by New Spirit Farmland Partnerships.

That bid will now go back to the City Council on Monday, January 14, where Legg said it would likely be discussed at length.

“(The council) will consider a resolution naming the Hoffner bid as the final bid and authorize staff to facilitate closing on the property,” Legg said via e-mail.

“They do have the option of rejecting the bid and starting the process over (or retaining ownership and not rebidding at all). The only real reason they would do that is if they thought there would be a greater chance of an upset bid the second time around,” Legg said.

Legg said he wasn’t sure whether the holidays affected the lack of bids for the property, but said he expects that will be discussed at the meeting.

In the meantime, Hoffner is looking ahead.

“My reaction? Pretty cotton-pickin’ relieved,” said Hoffner, who — along with wife Tara — owns and operates Hoffner Organic Farms in Mt. Ulla.

Speaking by phone Friday afternoon, Hoffner said he doesn’t see any reason why the Kannapolis City Council would not vote to accept the offer he and Biggs-Ratcliffe have made.

The Hoffner family has leased the land for three decades, and Chris Hoffner said he considers the leased pastures vital to their organic dairy and beef operations.

The couple said they have nearly 300 cattle, including dairy and beef stock.

In an interview with the Post last month, the Hoffners described their partnership with New Spirit, a Wisconsin-based group that connects farmland investors with organic farmers.

Under the proposed arrangement, the Hoffners would go on leasing the land for at least five years, with the option to extend the lease to a full 15-year term.

Also, the Hoffners would have the right of first refusal if Biggs-Ratcliffe decides to sell.

The Kannapolis City Council meets Monday, Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Kannapolis Train Station, 201 S. Main St.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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