Kannapolis to buy downtown property from Murdock

Published 10:07 am Thursday, March 12, 2015

KANNAPOLIS – The city of Kannapolis and David H. Murdock have negotiated a transaction regarding 46 acres of property in downtown Kannapolis. The city will pay $5.55 million for the property, which has a tax value of approximately $23 million.

The purchase includes eight blocks of buildings located on Oak Avenue, West Avenue, South Main Street and West First Street. This property includes the former Cannon Village, the Gem Theatre, the current Kannapolis City Hall offices, Wells Fargo Bank, the current Kannapolis Police Department and the former Plant 4 site. The buildings have a total of 653,395 square feet.

“This is a history making moment for our city. We now have the unique opportunity to launch a new chapter in the life of our downtown. This will allow us to capitalize on the many assets we have in our city while developing a vibrant downtown. We are appreciative of Mr. Murdock working closely with us to make this possible. He is committed to continuing his investment in the city and specifically the North Carolina Research Campus. This transaction strengthens our partnership as we all work to bring economic development and jobs to Kannapolis,” said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant.

The City Council will sign a contract with the intent to purchase the property at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 16. A public hearing regarding the purchase of these properties will be held on May 11. Opportunities for the public to receive information on the plans for the revitalization of downtown will occur before May 11 and will be announced soon.

“This purchase of property will allow us to better plan and stimulate development in our downtown core. In order to best capitalize on this opportunity we will develop a long range strategic plan,” said Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg. “We will report to the board at the meeting on March 16 the beginning steps of this strategic plan.

The city will contract with the non-profit Development Finance Initiative, at the UNC-CH School of Government to assist in the revitalization of downtown Kannapolis. The Development Finance Initiative (DFI) partners with local governments in North Carolina to attract private investment for projects including building reuse, community development, downtown revitalization, economic development, and neighborhood redevelopment.

Once the long range strategic plan is in place the city and DFI will work to attract developers who will purchase the property for a mix of residential apartments, offices, retail stores, restaurants. The City and DFI will also develop a plan to invest in people attractors such as a baseball stadium, family event attractors or a performing arts centers. The city anticipates this will take a minimum of 10 years to reach a status of significant development. However, the city has already begun working to attract development activity.

The city began exploring the possibility of acquiring the property last summer after completing studies on economic development, transportation, infrastructure and parks and recreation. The studies focused on how to best create economic development and jobs throughout the city, the downtown core and to capitalize on one of the city’s primary assets – the North Carolina Research Campus.

“We simply cannot afford to not invest in our downtown. The expected direct return on our investment means millions of dollars in jobs, services and products which will be available to our citizens. People want to live, work and play in the downtown,” said Hinnant.

Over the last six months the city has completed thorough inspections and appraisals on the buildings and properties evaluating their structural integrity, electric systems, environmental conditions and infrastructure. The buildings were constructed between 1920 and 1987.

The city plans no immediate changes in the leases of the tenants who are currently renting space in the downtown structures and will encourage their input as the city begins the plans for redevelopment.

The study of the buildings shows that their conditions vary. Some buildings will only need minor repairs or renovations while others may need to be removed. Infrastructure, including water, sewer, storm water and paving of streets, will have to be replaced due to its age and condition. Additional items such as trees, landscaping, streetlights will also need to be added. The cost is approximately $14 million for infrastructure which would be spread out over the next 10 years as the revitalization plan is implemented. The purchase of the land and improvements would be paid with the sale of bonds.

“This is a great opportunity and we will have to make investments in the property in order to attract the development, the jobs, products and services we would like to have in downtown Kannapolis. We look forward to hearing from our citizens as we work to plan the future of this critical component of our city,” further commented Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant.

The city also owns 17 acres of additional downtown property which includes Village Park, Veterans Park, the Dale Earnhardt Tribute, Train Station and the new City Hall and Police Headquarters.