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In 2015, the City of Kannapolis, located 25 miles north of Charlotte on Interstate 85, purchased 50 acres of prime but distressed downtown real estate—all now located within an Opportunity Zone—including its historic main street, directly adjacent to the North Carolina Research Campus, a burgeoning partnership between UNC, Duke, and a number of private research entities to “transform science at the intersection of human health, nutrition and agriculture.”

The city partnered with UNC DFI to create a financially feasible redevelopment plan driven by public-private partnerships. The plan includes the creation of 1,500 new residential units, 50,000 sq. ft. of retail space, 90,000 sq. ft. of office space, and 75 hotel rooms in downtown over the next decade. The first phase of private development, a 275-unit multi-family mixed-use project and public parking deck, will break ground in 2018, with an estimated investment of $45 million.

To spur further investment, the city has broken ground on a $50 million sports and entertainment venue in the heart of downtown that will open in spring 2020. The city is also constructing a linear park and streetscape, replacing sewer and storm water lines, and burying power lines.


To facilitate the relocation of a local minor league baseball team into its downtown area, the City of Gastonia, which is 20 miles west of Charlotte, acquired 16 acres and two historic buildings. Dubbed the “Franklin Urban Sports & Entertainment (FUSE) District,” this innovative project is located between Gastonia’s downtown and its Loray Mill District, an historic mill village that includes the Loray Mill, a recently redeveloped 600,000-square-foot mixed-use project.

The ballpark will occupy approximately 8 acres of the 16-acre FUSE tract; the remaining 8 acres is poised to receive more than $50 million of private investment, which will be deployed to create a mix of products, including multi-family, commercial, and hospitality spaces. The first phase of private development will involve the adaptive reuse of the 1897 Trenton Mill, which is adjacent to the ballpark. In July 2018, the city will select a private partner to develop the $14 million project, which will include approximately 75 residential units and 1,800 square feet of commercial space.


Broughton District is a 10-year vision plan for an 800-acre mixed-used development in Morganton. The entire site is situated within an Opportunity Zone and is currently under public ownership.

The site is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, next to national and state parks. It is easily accessible from Interstate 40, within a mile of Morganton’s vibrant historic downtown, and boasts vistas that overlook an internal valley cut by Hunting Creek. The district offers 800,000 square feet of historic buildings that are situated on the high points of the property.

The Broughton District vision plan, developed by UNC DFI in cooperation with both the state and the local government, calls for $14 million of public investment in parks, greenways, and trails within the district. This public investment is intended to serve as a catalyst for $180 million of phased private development (historic adaptive reuse and new construction), including single-family residential; multi-family residential (for-sale and rental); hospitality (highway-oriented hotel, boutique spa/conference hotel); destination retail; and active adult living.


Concord, with a population of 90,000, is located less than 30 minutes north of downtown Charlotte and less than five miles off Interstate 85. The majority of Concord’s downtown lies within an Opportunity Zone. The city’s population has grown by roughly 14 percent over the past six years and is projected to continue to grow rapidly. Concord is home to a beautiful, historic downtown that serves as a cultural, commercial, and civic hub for the city and county.

UNC DFI partnered with the city to develop a proposed Downtown Concord Project. This urban infill development program includes 201 residential units, 11,000 square feet of retail and office space, and structured parking. This project meets an established public goal of increasing the amount and diversity of residential options in downtown Concord. In April 2018, the city council approved moving into exclusive negotiations with a private developer to pursue a development agreement with the city. It is anticipated that the agreement will be finalized in late summer of 2018, and the project will break ground in 2019.


Durham County is evaluating the redevelopment potential of two properties on East Main Street, one of which is located in an Opportunity Zone. Redevelopment of this four-acre surface parking lot will be supported by the construction of county-owned parking structures. Multiple development plans are currently under consideration. All feature a mix of market-rate and affordable multi-family residential, office, and retail.

For more information on UNC DFI and its projects, contact Marcia Perritt at (link sends e-mail)