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Kannapolis mulls buying downtown property from David Murdock

KANNAPOLIS — City officials are considering some of N.C. Research Campus founder David Murdock’s other downtown properties, according to a news release issued today.
The statement does not specify which or how many properties the city is considering, only that the purchase could be part of a long-term plan to continue revitalizing the city’s core.
Murdock — through his local company, Castle & Cooke — has owned much of downtown Kannapolis since buying Cannon Mills in 1982. The California billionaire who also owns Dole Foods sold the mill but retained the other real estate.
He bought the shuttered mill property again out of bankruptcy in 2004. After demolishing the plants, Murdock began constructing the N.C. Research Campus, a life-sciences research and development hub.
In recent conversations with the city — which is building $27 million city hall and police headquarters on the Research Campus — Murdock indicated he’d be interested in selling some of his downtown properties and concentrating his money and research campus, the news release said.
Meanwhile, city officials have been discussing ideas for a downtown development that would draw people downtown, generate residential and commercial growth, and boost the success of other “assets” such as the Village Park, the N.C. Music Hall of Fame and the Gem Theatre.
Among the ideas floated are a downtown ballpark for the Kannapolis Intimidators minor league baseball team, an apartment complex, a museum or other family attraction, and educational facilities.
Kannapolis officials want to “best poise the city for job creation while maintaining the quality of life residents enjoy here,” the news release said.
In addition to a major downtown development — which the news release called a “game changer” — the city is completing in-depth studies on parks and recreation amenities, economic development possibilities, and planning long-term for transportation and utility infrastructure.
As for the possibility of buying some of Murdock’s property, the news release said, “Over the next few months we will carefully examine if this is a purchase the city should make; how this project would impact the city’s financial resources and options available for redevelopment and renovation of these properties.”
City officials are currently conducting due diligence on the possible acquisition and trying to answer questions including, “Why should we buy it? What properties to buy? What is the cost of purchasing the property, renovating it, ongoing operating expenses? How will we pay for the purchase? Will it mean a property tax increase or other revenue stream? How will it impact other potential projects in the city? Will it significantly delay other needed projects in the city?
“These are just a few of the questions we need to answer as we evaluate this acquisition,” the news release said.
Kannapolis officials say they can only provide limited information to the public until the due diligence is complete, which should be this fall. After that, the city will seek public input before making a final decision, the news release said.
“We look forward to hearing from the community as we explore this opportunity,” the news release said.

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