Kannapolis residents’ reactions to downtown deal largely positive
By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — After Kannapolis announced a deal to buy some 46 acres of downtown property from David Murdock, citizens’ reactions were generally positive and cautiously optimistic.
“I’m really excited,” said Louise Moser, who works part time at the BonWorth outlet on West Avenue.
Moser, a Kannapolis resident, said stores like hers are among the only places downtown people can shop. She also said she’s excited at the idea of new residential development.
“It’s kind of sad to see where Kannapolis has been, and where we are now,” Moser said of Kannapolis’ downtown.
Gary Walter, who described himself as a “concerned citizen,” was at Thursday’s meeting of Downtown Kannapolis, Inc. to hear City Manager Mike Legg talk about the sale.
“I’m optimistic about it,” Walter said. “In the past, people have always pointed the finger at (David) Murdock for not doing enough (downtown). Now there’s a chance to show what we can do.”
Michelle Hewitt, one of the co-owners of Southern Style Catering in Kannapolis, said she’s lived and worked in Kannapolis all her life.
Hewett said she misses the local stores that used to be downtown when her grandparents worked for Cannon Mills.
“People respected those businesses and shopped there. They supported them,” Hewitt said. She said she hopes the city’s purchase will lead to more locally owned businesses in the future.
Denise Broome, who was raised in Kannapolis and still works there, said she was taking a “wait and see approach.”
“There’s been so much talk about what was going to happen,” said Broome. “There were going to be outlet stores, then nothing. Then it was going to be part of the Research Campus, and then nothing.”
“I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but that’s how I feel,” Broome said.
Grant Rader, a retired Kannapolis businessman and DKI member, said the announcement was “the best thing that’s happened to the city in years.”
“This gives the city the ability to develop and market the properties in a way they could not otherwise,” Rader said.
By Thursday night, the announcement on the city of Kannapolis Facebook page had 127 likes and had been shared 67 times.
The majority of Facebook comments on the city’s announcement were positive, with some speaking out for specific stores they’d like to see downtown.
“Exciting news!!” said Nicole Crosby. “I’d prefer a private developer, but the city has done a good job into breathing life into K-Town…”
Others were less optimistic.
“The downtown was revitalized one time and now is vacant,” Rita J. Jones said in reply to the city’s announcement. “… Rent is too high for mom & pop stores and no big anchors to draw anyone else.”