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Kannapolis finalizes $8.75M deal to buy downtown properties

KANNAPOLIS — City officials have agreed to pay $7.55 million to buy the former Cannon Village and other downtown properties from N.C. Research Campus founder David H. Murdock.

That’s $2 million more than the city estimated earlier this year it would cost to buy the properties, which the city said were appraised at a higher-than-anticipated value.

In addition, the city is buying the K-Town Furniture building from Uwharrie Bank for $875,000 and a house at 206 S. Main St. for $325,000. That brings the total for all the properties to $8.75 million.

The city finalized the purchase agreements for the properties Friday and will take ownership in September, according to a news release.

“Just like buying a personal home, we submitted an initial purchase offer which allowed us time to officially analyze the assets we are buying, which properties to purchase, determine what renovations may be needed, how best to plan for the revitalized uses of the property, and negotiate the best price we could for the properties,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said in the news release. “It has been a long process but well worth the wait. We all know how much time it takes to buy one house. We have in essence bought many houses and it took time to complete the purchase.”

The majority of the downtown properties have been held by Castle & Cooke, NC and Atlantic American Properties, Inc., both owned by Murdock, a California billionaire and Dole Foods owner who once owned the former Cannon Mills where the N.C. Research Campus now stands.

The purchase includes properties located on Oak Avenue, West Avenue, South Main Street and West First Street, including the former Cannon Village, the Gem Theatre, the current Kannapolis city offices, Wells Fargo Bank, the current Kannapolis Police Department and the former Cannon Mills Plant 4 site.

“We will now move forward full speed ahead with the strategic plan for revitalizing the downtown. A market and site analysis as well as Phase II of the baseball study are the next steps in our process. We look forward to having public presentations on these phases,” continued Hinnant.

City Council members have discussed the possibility of building a downtown baseball stadium for the minor league Kannapolis Intimidators.

During the inspection and evaluation phases it was determined that the downtown properties the city decided to buy were worth more than previously estimated, according to the news release. The properties have a total tax value of approximately $25 million.

“While this is a significant investment for Kannapolis, City Council has concluded this is an opportunity we must make to ensure the long term economic vitality of our downtown core and entire city. We believe our strategic plan for revitalization will pay huge dividends for the entire city’s economic future,” Hinnant said.

The city will pay for the purchase with bonds. The bonds will be paid back with a 3-cent property tax increase — which is part of the 2015-2016 fiscal budget — and the sale of the properties to developers.

“The city does not want to be in the property management business any longer than we need to. The goal is to develop a good strategic plan and find private sector investors to sell or partner with,” City Manager Mike Legg said in the news release.

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