Kannapolis submits plan to boost downtown development

Kannapolis submits plan to boost downtown development

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by AMY COWMAN / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 15 at 5:41 PM

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- Downtowns across the country are struggling to stay afloat, but one local community says it has a plan. The town of Kannapolis says with the help of the North Carolina Main Street Program, it's hoping they'll be booming with business again.

"Kannapolis is definitely a kind of a hard luck story," said City Planning Director Kris Krider.
 
It's no rundown eyesore with beautiful brick walkways and oak trees, but downtown Kannapolis is struggling.
 
 "This quaint downtown it's really unique.  It looks great, but it's empty and we're trying to figure out what can bring it back," added Krider.
 
Krider says it's easy to blame the collapse of the textile industry here.
 
“Ultimately Pillowtex, who was the owner, went bankrupt in 2003 (and) shut down the mill—4,000 jobs gone, overnight," said Krider.
 
So now, they're determined to breathe life back into the town, which does have unique spots like the NC Music Hall of Fame, where they hope revitalization will bring more people to enjoy the one and only of its kind in the state.
 
"Visitors, we believe, will double because they want some other place to go when they leave here,” said Eddie Ray of the hall of fame.
 
City Council agreed to appoint a planning group to get the ball rolling.  Steve Morris is part of that group as well as the owner of the Gem Theatre and says the North Carolina Main Street Program is their hope for success.
 
"They have such a long history in dealing with situations in downtowns throughout the state and the country for that matter,” said Morris.
 
After meeting slight resistance from the City Council, the group got the go ahead to submit an application for the program and they have the majority of property owners on board.

Plus, Morris says they have basic features many towns have told them they wish they had to begin revitalization.
 
"They say a drug store, I say we have a drug store in downtown Kannapolis, and their next thing is a grocery store.  Well, we have a grocery store in downtown Kannapolis," said Morris.
 
Now they just need the tools to get other businesses to follow.
 
Two main companies, Castle and Cooke and American Atlantic Properties, own the majority of the vacant downtown buildings and are on board with the city to move forward with the revitalization.
 
The City Council also approved a $92,000 investment in the program.  It will help pay the salary for a full-time Downtown Development Director.
 

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