CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte Pipe and Foundry is officially moving to Stanly County after spending more than 100 years in Charlotte.
The announcement came Tuesday afternoon in a press release, stating the company’s board of directors “made a determination that it is in the best interest of the company” to build a new, state-of-the-art foundry on a 428-acre property in Oakboro, North Carolina in Stanly County.
The company has operated its cast iron foundry in Charlotte at its current location at the corner of South Clarkson Street and West Summit Avenue for more than 100 years.
“Charlotte Pipe has always been committed to investments that will benefit our associates, our customers and our shareholders,” said Roddey Dowd, Jr., CEO of Charlotte Pipe. “While our current location is providing all stakeholders with a solid platform to deliver outstanding results, a new foundry will allow a more efficient layout of our plant and equipment and give us the flexibility to expand to meet future needs. Our current site simply does not afford the opportunities for growth that we envision for Charlotte Pipe.”
The move frees up prime real estate Panthers owner David Tepper has been eyeing in uptown Charlotte. The facility is only a few blocks from the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium, and has been referenced as a potential destination for a new Carolina Panthers stadium.
Tepper spoke multiple times in the past year about a desire to build a stadium in the next decade in uptown. In November, Tepper told reporters that the Pipe and Foundry site was one potential location. Tepper nor the Panthers have commented on Tuesday’s news of the official plans for the company to move.
The company says as plant relocation details are finalized, officials say senior management is evaluating a wide variety of options for the 55 acres where the current foundry is located in uptown Charlotte.
“We feel fortunate that the land area constitutes one of the largest contiguous tracts of land in an urban center in the nation and we see many exciting possibilities for the property,” said Hooper Hardison, President of Charlotte Pipe.
Charlotte Pipe selected Stanly County after a two-year process. The company will invest at least $325 million in the new foundry.
The company is currently finishing the design and engineering work and finalizing key contracts and permit applications. Site work could begin later in 2020 and the new plant could be operating as early as the third quarter of 2023.
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry has been in continuous operation since 1901, remains privately held and has seven plant locations across the United States.
Brad Muller, the Vice-President of Marketing at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry , said it has not been determined what will happen to the property the company currently owns at the corner of South Clarkson Street and West Summit Avenue.
“We have made no plans for that land as of yet. We’re going to have to operate there for another two or three years while the plant is being built,” said Muller in an interview with WBTV.
When asked about reports that Tepper had been looking for potential locations near uptown to build a new NFL stadium, Muller replied jokingly, but acknowledged that he had heard the reports about the Panthers owner.
“Mr. Tepper hasn’t called me today. Of course the buzz has been in the media, but we don’t have any current plans other than stay there and work until we get our new plant open,” he said.
The current Charlotte Pipe and Foundry property is in District 2 of the Charlotte City Council districts. Charlotte City Councilman Malcom Graham, who represents District 2, said he was sad to hear the company was leaving, but acknowledged the positive impact the company has had on the city.
Graham also said he had heard the buzz surrounding Tepper’s search for a new stadium location in the uptown area.
“It’s probably the worst kept secret in the city, right? That they were eyeing that piece of property. Certainly Mr. Tepper has come in to this community and has really put his footprint on it in terms of reestablishing the Carolina Panthers by moving their practice facility to Rock Hill to buying the MLS franchise and relocating that to the Eastland Mall area,” noted the councilman.
He said city leaders will continue to work with Tepper on the business ventures, but are currently worried about the pandemic and affordable housing issues that are plaguing the city.
“Obviously, the council is not tone deaf. We’re concerned about the public health of the community, getting small business owners up and operating,” said Graham.
Muller said that members of the public should not expect an announcement about the Charlotte Pipe and Foundry property being sold anytime soon.
“It’s not even on the table right now,” said Muller. “Certainly, we’d listen to offers, but again, we’re gonna need to stay there for a while and keep that plant running.”
He said the earliest the current facility would be closing down would be in late 2023.
WBTV reached out to both the Carolina Panthers and Tepper Sports and Entertainment for comment on this story. Both organizations declined to comment.