I want to start my coverage of Kannapolis, NC with its development history. This history should help provide context for why Kannapolis has developed the way it has and help readers understand my future posts. Kannapolis originally developed around Cannon Mills, which were known as the Largest Manufacturers of Towels in the World. These words were proudly displayed with a large sign that could be seen from the railroad.
Since Kannapolis was a mill town before being altered by the North Carolina Research Campus, it originally developed around the needs of the mill workers. “All aspects of life, from housing to road infrastructure to recreation and services, centered around mill operations.” During its time as a mill town and before its incorporation in 1984, the needs of Kannapolis were provided by the Cannon family, which owned Cannon Mills. This all changed in 1984 when “the citizens of Kannapolis voted to incorporate, transforming the largest unincorporated ara in the United States into the 16th largest city in North Carolina.”
In some ways, Kannapolis never really changed after its incorporation because most of downtown Kannapolis is owned and developed through a public-private partnership called the North Carolina Research Campus. As the below photo shows, which is from the Kannapolis Center City Master Plan, this has resulted in Kannapolis having at least two major developers. The North Carolina Research Campus is working to develop its campus in downtown Kannapolis and the City of Kannapolis is working to develop Kannapolis as a whole.
Now that you know the development history of Kannapolis, I will begin posting about how Kannapolis’ current development is impacting its livability. While I plan to discuss many aspects of livability, my focus will be on how well Kannapolis provides safe and convenient transportation choices. In order to facilitate this discussion, I plan to show how safe or unsafe the roads in Kannapolis are for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists. Along with the unsafe examples, I plan to discuss what Kannapolis is doing to make the roads safer for all road users. I truly appreciate all the work that the City of Kannapolis, Concord Kannapolis Area Transit, Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization, Centralina Council of Governments, North Carolina Department of Transportation, and many Kannapolis residents and visitors are doing to make Kannapolis roads safer for all road users. This topic was inspired by Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design 2014, which was released today.