KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) - Members of the Kannapolis City Council officially signed a resolution to purchase 46 acres of property in Downtown Kannapolis during a special meeting on Monday, according to a new release provided to WBTV.
The $5.55 million purchase includes eight blocks of buildings located on Oak Avenue, West Avenue, S. 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.
"I think the community really sees that as an opportunity and are behind it for that reason and are willing to be partners in making this happen," Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg told WBTV on Tuesday.
Council members voted unanimously to make the purchase and each made remarks regarding the historic decision and purchase of the properties.
"How many people are able to completely recreate and revitalize their downtown? We have that opportunity. We are going to be able to invest in our city for the current generation and for our children's generation and theirs as well. We are going to need your help – your input as we make decisions that will benefit everybody in our City," commented Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant.
"We are ready to see everyone energized about our downtown again," said Mayor Pro Tem Ryan Dayvault.
Council Member Roger Haas commented, "The picture is clear. It is time to move forward. To look forward to great success."
"It is a wonderful day for our City. We would like to say thank you to Mr. Murdock for working with us to make this happen," Council Member Diane Berry said.
Council Member Tom Kincaid said, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and signals a new birth for our City."
"As the poet Robert Frost spoke about taking the road less traveled and that it leads to success - that is what we are doing," commented Council Member Darrell Jackson.
Council Member Doug Wilson said, "We have completed an eight month intense journey of pursuing this project and it is a great day for our City."
The meeting began with a presentation from Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg who outlined the initial steps which will be completed in the next six months to begin the revitalization process.
Legg spoke to the council and the audience of over 100 people about the importance of an economically healthy downtown. "The long-term success of the North Carolina Research Campus and our entire City hinges on a vibrant, healthy and stable downtown. This is just one piece of our citywide economic development puzzle. We are going to be thorough and strategic about what we do with this property," he said.
The City anticipates paying for the purchase with bonds. The bonds would be paid back with a small property tax increase 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," he continued.
The first six months of the revitalization plan include:
· Approve a contract with the non-profit Development Finance Initiative, at the UNC-CH School of Government to assist in the revitalization of downtown Kannapolis.
· Hold public information meetings on the purchase (March 30, April 15 and April 20)
· Present the Phase I Baseball Stadium Study to Council (March 23)
· City Council Planning/Visioning Session (April 9-10)
· Public Hearing on the Purchase (May 11)
· Secure a Property Management Company (May 11)
· Receive Approval from the state for the purchase financing plan (June 2)
· Present Phase II Baseball Stadium Study to Council (June 8)
· Adopt an Operating Budget for Downtown Properties (June 8)
· Complete all paperwork necessary for the closing on the property (July 15)
The planning and vision session will give staff and DFI direction on developing the long range strategic plan. Once it is finalized the City and DFI will work to attract developers who will purchase the property for a mix of residential apartments, offices, retail stores, restaurants and people attractors such as a baseball stadium, family event or a performing arts center. The City anticipates it will take a minimum of 10 years to reach a status of significant development.
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.
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.
Asked just how big this project was for Kannapolis, Legg told WBTV that it was one of the biggest projects the city has ever undertaken.