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Kannapolis council to study selling downtown apartments

New meeting format

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council noted Monday evening to change its venue and meeting format for the remainder of the year.

The first meeting of each month will be a work session conducted at the Public Works Operations Center, 1501 Bethpage Road. The council will receive information and discuss upcoming issues. No votes will be at these meetings, nor will public comments be received. These meetings are set for Sept. 14, Oct. 12 and Nov. 9.

The second meeting of each month will be business meetings conducted at the Kannapolis Train Station, 201 S. Main St. The council will vote on issues at these meetings, and hear public comments. These meetings are set for Sept. 28, Oct. 26 and Nov. 23.

The December business meeting will take place Dec. 14 at the new City Hall, 401 Laureate Way. The second meeting of the month is canceled because of the Christmas holiday.

This same format will continue once council meetings move to the new City Hall. The only thing that won’t change is the time, as each session still begins at 6 p.m.

By Susan Shinn

For The Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — On Monday evening, City Council members got a taste of what it’s going to be like to be in the property management business — however temporarily — as they delved into whether to gather information to sell apartments in the downtown area.

Ultimately, a majority of the council voted to do so.

The University of North Carolina’s Nutrition Research Institute needs housing for its student employees, and would like to purchase some 11 apartments in Downtown Kannapolis.

However, it would take a good deal of effort — as well as city money — to determine the value of those apartments, and what the value of each individual apartment would be should each be sold.

Council learned that Dr. Steven Zeisel is leading the effort on behalf of the Nutrition Research Institute, and desires to secure housing by May 2016. His group has a budget of $500,000.

However, council was not convinced that figure was high enough. The apartments now bring in $66,000 in rental income annually, according to City Manager Mike Legg, and it would cost an additional $50,000 to $100,000 to conduct due diligence of the property. This excludes any major renovations, he said.

The staff recommendation was to take no action, Legg said. “We’ll know a lot more about the downtown and where it’s headed in the next four months.”

But council members want more information now, not later. And the offer is tempting.

“We’re living in a very uncertain world,” Councilman Doug Wilson said. “If someone’s handing us a lot of money, I’d want to take it.”

Councilman Roger Haas disagreed.

“It just doesn’t look good to tell the apartment residents that they have to leave,” he said.

Eight of the 11 units are rented, with some apartment-dwellers there for six years or more.

Again, Haas said, the city does not want to get into the real estate management business. “I’ve always feared we’re gonna run ahead of the consultant’s process.”

Resident Marie Edmiston, who works at the train station, has lived in her apartment for 12 years.

“I love my home,” she said. “I came to stay. Please let us stay there.”

“Welcome to the tough decisions you’re going to have to make in talking about downtown revitalization,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said.

Councilman Darrell Jackson said that if council was interested in selling the apartments, they should be evaluated. Legg noted that Zeisel was pursuing other options.

Because Mayor Pro Tem Ryan Dayvault works for the Nutrition Research Institute, council excused him from voting.

“If we’re not going to be in the property management business, aren’t there questions we need to have answered anyway?” he asked. “Knowing more information is not gonna hurt anybody.”

“I can’t see spending money on anything unless it’s aligned with the overall goals of the downtown, and we don’t know what those goals are yet,” Haas said.

“We’ll either have to do it now or do it later,” Councilman Tom Kincaid said.

Finally, council voted 4-2 to direct staff to take steps to pursue the sale of the downtown apartments to the Nutrition Research Institute. Haas and Councilwoman Dianne Berry voted against the motion.

In other business:

• Lt. Steve Belk of the Kannapolis Police Department and five other officers recognized Chief Woody Chavis for his support of their participation in a charity bicycle ride to Washington in May, which honored fallen comrades. The six Kannapolis officers rode in memory of Officer Roger Dale Carter, killed in the line of duty on Dec. 31, 1993. Cyclists were Belk, Bryan Ritchie, Mike Carothers, Jamie Livengood, Daniel Beaver and Trey Hinton.

Chavis allowed the officers to hold a barbecue fundraiser, which produced “overwhelming” support, Belk said — enough for the officers to pay their ride expenses, and make a $1,600 donation to the Cops Target Kids Christmas gifts program.

Visibly moved, Chavis deflected the praise back toward the officers.

“With all the months and hours, and blood, sweat and tears that they put in to do this ride,” Chavis said, “there’s no way I couldn’t support them. They worked so hard. They rode daily. You wouldn’t believe how hard that ride is. You can’t imagine how proud I am of us. They rode for us. They rode for me. They rode for Roger. Being a police officer is not a job. We love what we do.

“You’re our customers and you’re our people. I appreciate and love all of them.”

• The council unanimously appointed Robert Caison to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and Olin Miles to the Rowan County Housing Authority Board.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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