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Kannapolis to test Main Street program

The Kannapolis City Council has approved a yearlong test run of the North Carolina Main Street program in the hopes of revitalizing the city’s struggling downtown.

On Monday, the council OK’d participating in the state program, which was started in 2003 and is designed to stimulate economic development in North Carolina communities while preserving their historic character. The North Carolina Office of Urban Development oversees the program.

Kannapolis applied for the program in June, although Ann Gibson, spokeswoman for the city, said she isn’t sure if it’s the best fit for the city.

Kannapolis has certain challenges that might prevent the Main Street project from being successful, she said. For one, she said, Kannapolis is home to eight universities, all with different interests. Also, since a majority of downtown Kannapolis is owned by billionaire Robert Murdock’s Atlantic American Properties, it might be more difficult to implement the program than if there were more diversified ownership, she said.

By the end of August, the Main Street program will send people to help the city train employees and organize the project. After a year, the state will determine if Kannapolis is suited for the program, which typically runs for three years.

“It’s huge (for Kannapolis), because there is so much momentum and so many people involved in the downtown revitalization,” Gibson said. “It’s impossible to predict if the Main Street program will work … but the state said they are committed to helping Kannapolis in any way they can.”

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