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Kannapolis downtown dream: Residential, retail, restaurants

March 16, 2015

By: Michael Knox, Independent Tribune

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KANNAPOLIS, N.C.– City leaders aim to rebuild downtown into a center of activity, with a mix of residential apartments, offices, retail stores and restaurants.

To help in that effort, the city will partner with the non-profit Development Finance Initiative at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.

The Development Finance Initiative partners with local governments in North Carolina to attract private investment for projects including building reuse, community development, downtown revitalization, economic development, and neighborhood redevelopment.

Once the long-range strategic plan is in place, the City of Kannapolis and Development Finance Initiative officials will work to attract developers who will purchase the property.

The city and DFI will also develop a plan to invest in attractions such as a baseball stadium, family-event facilities or a performing arts center. The city anticipates this will take a minimum of 10 years to reach a “status of significant development.” However, the city has already begun working to attract development activity.

“We don’t want to be in the real estate business,” said Darrell Hinnant, Kannapolis mayor. “We want to be a facilitator in this process. We want this to be a public/private partnership and become a private opportunity for the entire community. We feel that the quicker we can get out of the real estate business the more effective this process will be.”

Mike Legg, Kannapolis city manager, said the partnership will be key to helping make sure officials make the right choices in how to develop downtown. The partnership with Development Finance Initiative will be critical to that effort, he said.

“They are going to partner with us through this whole process and advising us as we develop the plan and the strategy,” Legg said. “They are going to be the connection to the private investors, they are going to be the ones out there finding private investors that are interested in downtown.”

Legg said their expert advice will also be important as officials decide what kinds of businesses they want downtown.

“We develop a plan for it, sort of spell out what we want to see out of this property and the Development Finance Initiative, they will take that plan and start to shop it and they’ll request proposals potentially,” Legg said.

During the process, the city will continue to work closely with David Murdock has he continues to focus on the North Carolina Research Campus.

“One of the reasons for us to purchase the downtown is to be another asset for the research campus,” Hinnant said. “So, we just can’t sell it willy-nilly, we have to make sure that whatever we find as opportunities to develop downtown to fit with the research campus.”

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