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      WARNING!   07/26/16

      By reading or participating in the Coffee House forum, you are acknowledging that some topics may be highly controversial in nature. While we make every attempt to ensure that no one and no groups are offended as a result of discussions contained within, we unfortunately can make no guarantees. Participate in threads contained within this forum at your own risk.
Neo

Concord in the midst of major changes?

352 posts in this topic

A huge employer will be closing their doors by 2010. Phillip Morris is closing their plant on Hwy. 29 in Concord to consolidate operations in Richmond. Currently the Phillip Morris plant in Concord employs 2,500. This is a huge economic blow to the area, especially for Cabarrus County which has just recently seen other major changes such as CTC being sold to Windstream and NorthEast Medical being merged with CMC. Long-term I believe the changes will be for the better, but I can't help but wonder what all of this turmoil in the Cabarrus County will do, especially considering the massive layoffs that happened not long ago with the textile industry in the area.

Perhaps now that tabacco may be moving out of NC we can move towards banning the use of cigarettes in public spaces such as restaurants.

So my question is how this will affect the area, especially specific to Concord and Cabarrus County?

I quickly drew a map to outline the area this encompasses:

post-1-1182867634_thumb.png

I've been told that this particular plot was in the running for a zoo before it was built as a cigarette plant. Perhaps this idea could be brought back up to give Charlotte a zoo.

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Wow. I would have never expected that. Unlike the closing of Cannon Mills this will hit the entire metro as the jobs in that place were high paying and many of the people who worked there actually live in Charlotte. This was a relatively new high tech manufacturing site that employed a lot of highly skilled people. Because of that, the PM plant brought a lot of spin-off economic benefits to the area. I would say that for at least every direct job, there is probably another job in a a business that served the plant.

This will be one of the bigger economic blows the region has seen in a while.

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From what I'm reading, the employment at this plant is actually closer to 2,700 and the average production job pays $29/hour which is phenomenal.

On another note, the land area that will be vacant after the departure is 2,100 acres. This is a lot of land to work with, but I'm not sure what else could use this type of facility other than level it for the use of something else. There are several extremely large warehouses in the corner of the parcel nearest Roberta Church and Roberta roads.

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^A harbinger of things to come. If you are in the manufacturing industry in the US you may want to start looking for a new line of work. I would expect 70-80% of the remaining manufacturing jobs to be shipped overseas in the next 5-10 years. I heard an interesting discussion with CEOs of major manufacturing companies including VF where they outright said all their operations will be either in Asia, Central America, and/or South America.

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Perplexing. Can't say I'm all that sad to see tobacco interests leave the state, though the reality of ~2500 jobs, solidly middle class no less, is appalling. I tend to think that the bottom has to drop out due to the sheer amount of manufacturing leaving the U.S., and possibly hastened by impending oil shortfalls, but I hold out hope NC can regain some of the lost capacity. The collection of cities and towns lying along the Piedmont Crescent was at one time one of the largest manufacturing areas of the country (wiki says 4th, not sure if that is now or some point in the past).

Edited by nowensone

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Looks like their greediness when it came to the whole water transfer issue has came back to them.

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While this is a huge blow to the economy of Cabarrus County, it's good that they will not be doing the shutdown Pillowtex style (as in, all at once.) Having the 2500 jobs dissolve over a longer period of time is a great sign that PM actually cares about the economy it helped to build. Also, giving the salaried positions the option to keep their jobs if they move to Richmond is a very generous offer on their part.

Another thing this provides is a lot of better educated individuals to help support the new biotech campus (although not directly.)

On the other hand, as Neo said, I see this as a good thing overall though. The PM land has been a huge roadblock to development along a very key area of Highway 29. It is the vast majority of the underdeveloped land between the two key areas of Concord: starting at the Super Walmart (and the consistent sprawl north to Kannapolis) and the Speedway/Concord Mills area.

Hopefully a large developer will come along and build something worth UP's praise. I'm hoping for a zoo, a large development resembling the old Coliseum development (only fronting 29 as the land is on both sides of the highway,) or some sort of mixed-use development along a road running between 29 and Roberta. The land on the northern side of the highway borders Cabarrus country club, this gives a LOT of value to that land for any potential developer. Hopefully it isn't made into a suburban cul-de-sac neighborhood.

Edited by aussie luke

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On the topic of a zoo, how much would the proximity of the NC Zoo in Asheboro factor in do you think?

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On the topic of a zoo, how much would the proximity of the NC Zoo in Asheboro factor in do you think?

So apparently people seem to forget about Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia.....but thats 85 miles away whereas Asheboro is 67 miles away.........for some reason it seems like columbia is closer though........

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Well, we are getting off topic, but I do believe that the Charlotte metro needs a zoo more than it wants one. Sure, it's nice having a zoo within an hour and a half's drive in two directions, but having one within the metro will not really be a status thing, but more of a cultural and educational necessity to the metro. This area is large enough, built to handle the traffic load, and already has plenty of other activities within a short distance to keep people in town before and after their visit; thus it would work to the metro's advantage to at least build a zoo in not necessarily this specific area, but one with similar features and space.

Edited by aussie luke

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....

On the other hand, as Neo said, I see this as a good thing overall though. The PM land has been a huge roadblock to development along a very key area of Highway 29. It is the vast majority of the underdeveloped land between the two key areas of Concord: starting at the Super Walmart (and the consistent sprawl north to Kannapolis) and the Speedway/Concord Mills area......

Actually PM preserved the land from the urban blight that surrounds it and which Cabarrus county, Concord and Harrisburg have approved over the years throughout the area. I suspect that if PM had never built that plant we would be looking at a decaying strip mall there, a huge asphalt parking lot, and a lot of signs. (and probably some cul de sac neighborhoods) One only has to look at speedway blvd to see what could have been there.

BTW, PM rents the land surrounding it's plant to farmers so I suspect that will disappear too once developers, and most likely national developers, get their hands on the land.

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It will be a sad day when the PM land is developed. Oddly, the plant has been the saving grace to remind us of what our region looked like at one time. Five years from now it will be SuperTarget with a NASCAR-themed water park. Sigh.

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Actually PM preserved the land from the urban blight that surrounds it and which Cabarrus county, Concord and Harrisburg have approved over the years throughout the area. I suspect that if PM had never built that plant we would be looking at a decaying strip mall there, a huge asphalt parking lot, and a lot of signs. (and probably some cul de sac neighborhoods) One only has to look at speedway blvd to see what could have been there.

BTW, PM rents the land surrounding it's plant to farmers so I suspect that will disappear too once developers, and most likely national developers, get their hands on the land.

Which I would not like to see. My mom lives in Concord, so I drive through there often and that empty swath of land is very refreshing. My immediate thought is an echo of the hubbub around the Dorothea Dix land in Raleigh - turn this into a huge, well-designed urban park, maybe incorporate a zoo on part of the acreage. Even though it's not in the center of the metro area, aim to create a true urban park, and increase the quality of what gets developed around the periphery.

If it does get developed - I wouldn't want strip malls or cul-de-sacs. Make it some kind of annex to the Pillowtex redevelopment; this would provide considerably more acreage for committed research use. If it is to be developed, some sort of orientation towards the future - emerging industries, technology or r&d - is the way to go. Junking up that land would be bad news.

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Which I would not like to see. My mom lives in Concord, so I drive through there often and that empty swath of land is very refreshing. My immediate thought is an echo of the hubbub around the Dorothea Dix land in Raleigh - turn this into a huge, well-designed urban park, maybe incorporate a zoo on part of the acreage. Even though it's not in the center of the metro area, aim to create a true urban park, and increase the quality of what gets developed around the periphery.

If it does get developed - I wouldn't want strip malls or cul-de-sacs. Make it some kind of annex to the Pillowtex redevelopment; this would provide considerably more acreage for committed research use. If it is to be developed, some sort of orientation towards the future - emerging industries, technology or r&d - is the way to go. Junking up that land would be bad news.

I'm not familiar with the site, but I think a park could be a great use for the land, and an economic generator for the long term. It's well documented that real estate rises with access to amenties like a lake or park, and this would be no different. The problem will be resisting the urge to rebuild the area very quickly in order to regain the lost tax base. Given the political realities of the situation, I'm afriad that urge will be very hard to overcome.

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The largest park in Cabarrus County (Frank Liske Park) is a stone's throw away however so I doubt you'll see this turn into a park of any kind. I think a zoo has a greater chance of happening. The thing is that the buildings on this property take a large portion of it, especially several extremely large warehouses. I have attached an aerial of the property that the plant and warehouses sit on showing rough boundaries and locations of three close sites backing up to the property:

post-1-1182965216_thumb.jpg

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The largest park in Cabarrus County (Frank Liske Park) is a stone's throw away however so I doubt you'll see this turn into a park of any kind. I think a zoo has a greater chance of happening. The thing is that the buildings on this property take a large portion of it, especially several extremely large warehouses. I have attached an aerial of the property that the plant and warehouses sit on showing rough boundaries and locations of three close sites backing up to the property:

post-1-1182965216_thumb.jpg

Yeah I wouldn't expect it either; reading the piece in the Raleigh News & Observer today, the Cabarrus economic development officials quoted are already seem to be leaning towards marketing the site as a potential headquarters or manufacturing location. I agree with Chief JoJo - making it an amentiy would pay off better in the long run. but given the hit that Cabarrus' tax base is going to have to absorb, I'm sure short term is what will be on everyone's mind, probably out of necessity. Still, large urban parks (I'm not thinking Liske, but more along the lines of Central Park) are a definite and rare amenity and enhance the appeal of an urban area, and opportunities to create them don't typically come around again. Either way, a headquarters would make sense - chasing after more manufacturing would not, uness they want to set themselves up for this to happen again in 10 or 15 years. Hell - if I really wanted to get pie-in-the-sky, I'd say put another university there; and make it a research one.

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In related news Hanesbrand just announced its laying off their remaining Statesville workforce and Springs Mills is shutting down its US manfacturing division.

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I was going to suggest that maybe the NC Wildlife Foundation or a similar group might be interested in it to boost the areas green space and turn it into a preserve but with all of those buildings there, I think that would not happen. They do have some pretty deep pockets.

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I agree that a park there is highly unlikely, although would be rather welcome in my opinion. The main issue with this idea is that Cabarrus County is having a lot of issues paying for new schools because of their unnatural population growth in certain areas of the county. I don't think a massive park is going to be on their agenda until the school overcrowding issue is resolved.

However, a company HQ is the most likely as much as Cab County likes to throw incentives out there for pretty much anything. My mother, who has lived two miles from this land for 14 years (albeit PM has been there much much much longer,) told me that PM originally bought the land and signed an agreement on their contract that the farmland along the highway would be preserved as such. Anybody know if there is any truth to this and, if so, would the new owners be held to this agreement as well?

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So, in a new positive turn of events for Cabarrus, Corning (optical fiber company, not the dinnerware company) has announced that they will be reopening their plant in Midland (southern Cab County.) While not a solution, it will help to aid the problem of 2700 eventually unemployed workers (worst case scenario, pending none of them move to Richmond.) The Corning plant previously employed 550 workers and closed down in 2002. It should reach that amount in about six to nine months once the work on restoring the factory to working condition is completed.

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the sad part about this is that the company can still collect tax breaks to the tune of $750,000 until 2010 even though they will be closed down.

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the sad part about this is that the company can still collect tax breaks to the tune of $750,000 until 2010 even though they will be closed down.

I believe that tax incentive is being investigated so that may not be the case.

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PM says they will return the tax incentive money so that's not an issue anymore.

Today's Observer has an article on the redevelopment of the site. Apparently Concord city officials are going to try to restrain growth and will try to prevent any new housing being built there. Instead, they hope to attract another industry to the site, such as a pharmaceutical or automotive company.

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I was just about to post that as well. The key words are "going to try to prevent" meaning, it may, or probably will, happen.

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The Observer is reporting that Phillip Morris is offering it's Concord employees $50,000 to move their jobs to it's Richmond, VA plant. Hourly employees who turn down a Richmond job could get between six months and about 21 months of severance and retention pay.

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