Donald C. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development

Downtown Master Plan, Kannapolis, NC. 

In 2015, City of Kannapolis agreed upon a bold idea: to purchase the entire 50 acres of downtown from a single property owner, as the first step in revitalizing a dormant and vacated business district of 700,000 square feet of older, obsolete buildings that had declined since the closure of the textile mill in 2003. The City embarked on developing a downtown master plan. One of the primary ideas of this plan was to leverage public investment to attract private investment. Over the next five years, the City invested $113 million with the expectation it could bring $374 million in private investment over the next ten years. Currently, about $100 million in private investment is already underway well ahead of the City's goal.

The four primary projects the City has invested in are:

  1. West Avenue - Completely re-creating the downtown streetscape and infrastructure to be a linear park through the middle of the downtown core, with distinct gathering areas, public art, activity spots, and dynamic water features designed to encourage pedestrian activity and lingering.
  2. Atrium Health Ballpark - Constructing this sports and entertainment venue in downtown to be the home of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers minor league baseball team with 80 home games per year. There is also a meeting & events space to attract additional visitors.
  3. VIDA Parking Deck- Partnering with a private developer to build a public parking deck to support a $60 million mixed-use project called Vida, which includes nearly 300 apartment units over 18,000 square feet of new retail. It is the first significant private investment in downtown and was planned to catalyze additional development.
  4. Gem Theatre - Renovating the beloved theatre and successfully nominating it to be designated on the National Register of Historic Places. The City added handicap-accessible restrooms, replaced the HVAC system and roof, and restored the marquee sign to this iconic building from the 1930s.

Photo: Mace Publishing, LLC