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Kannapolis city officials kick off downtown revitalization

KANNAPOLIS — A backdrop of construction noise set the perfect scene as Kannapolis city officials kicked off Phase 1 of the Downtown Revitalization Plan on Thursday.

The kickoff was held at the former location of K-Town Furniture. Mayor Darrell Hinnant and City Manager Mike Legg were enthusiastic in their remarks.

Hinnant and Legg spoke at length of the stages of the plan and the expected outcomes, but the overall goal seemed clear: to return Kannapolis to its days when Cannon Mills made the city an economic hub.

“In some sense, we will be like that mythological phoenix, that beautiful bird that rises from the ashes,” Hinnant said. “We’re going to be that beautiful community that rises from the places that used to be vibrant and actionable and alive.”

Kannapolis’ revitalization plan will depend on significant public investment. Phase 1 will cost $26 million. In two years, the total investment is projected to rise to $100 million.

Legg said the plan is projected to generate $400 million in private investment.

“The primary goal for this whole endeavor … was to make strategic public investment leverage private investment — a very simple formula,” he said. “That’s exactly what the City Council set out to do from the beginning.”

Revitalization will begin as utilities — water, sewer, stormwater, power, gas, cable and fiber optics — are moved underground. This effort will coincide with streetscaping.

In January, construction will begin on 300 apartments, retail spaces, a major amenity center, and a 400-space parking deck. The construction will be the first private investment in revitalization, to the tune of $60 million.

In the summer of 2018, a sports and entertainment venue that will be the new home of the Kannapolis Intimidators baseball team will be built at the site of Thursday’s festivities.

“By 2020, downtown Kannapolis will once again, I believe, be the heart of our great city,” Legg said.

Before joining other City Council members for a ceremonial demolition of part of the K-Town Furniture building, Hinnant expressed similar hopes.

“We’re waiting on the wings of that phoenix to grow and to spread and to become alive again,” he said. “There is a new vision that is going to bring us forward, that allows us to know that we can be just as satisfied, just as safe, just as ensured as that mill brought us those values in the past.”

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