'Growth' the key word for Bessemer City, Cherryville, Kings Mountain as leaders discuss projects
Commercial, industrial and residential growth is booming all across Gaston County, including in its three western municipalities — Cherryville, Bessemer City and Kings Mountain.
The Gastonia Business Association met Thursday morning at the Blossom Cafe in downtown Bessemer City to review the progress being made in those three municipalities.
"We are not sitting this morning in the Conference Center in downtown Gastonia," said Association CEO Patrick Munford. "We are here in Bessemer City. Gaston is a big county, and growth is occurring everywhere."
The city managers for the three municipalities gave the 100 or so association members an overview of what is happening in their cities.
City Manager James Inman reported that Bessemer City has made progress over the past decade in lowering the city's poverty rate, raising the average household income and increasing the median value of single family homes.
Inman then elaborated on the following projects:
Lennar Homes: A project to build 157 new single family homes on 150 acres of land. The average home price will be $275,000, and the development will feature greenspace, a pool, and a walking trail.
The estimated investment in the property is $34 million.
DSG Townhomes: This project will see the construction of 91 townhomes, each with an approximate value of $275,000. The estimated investment in this property is $21 million.
The Osage Mill Project: One of the city’s first textile mills, the 250,000-square-foot mill dates back to the late 1800s and was built by the city’s founder, John A. Smith.
This mixed-use, multi-purpose rehab project will include more than 139 one- two- and three-bedroom loft-style apartment units as well as 30,000 square feet of retail/commercial/ community space.
The estimated investment in the property is $38 million.
Kintegra Health: Kintegra is building a 6,000-square-foot building that will house a family medical practice, a dental clinic, and an eye clinic.
The estimated investment in the property is $2.5 million.
Inman noted that other residential and commercial projects are in the planning stages.
"We're going to see more diversity in our tax base," he said of the years ahead. "Our population will increase, we will have more housing options, our downtown revitalization projects will continue and, hopefully, we'll see a better quality of life for our residents."
City Manager Brian Dalton explained that downtown revitalization has been a focus in Cherryville since 2014.
Using the old Belk building on Main Street as an example of that effort, he said its lower floor is being turned into retail and office space while apartments will occupy the second floor.
"More than 80% of our downtown buildings either have been or are in the process of being renovated or updated," Dalton said. "This represents a unique cooperation between the city and private investors."
Another example Dalton pointed out is the old post office building downtown which is also being renovated into apartments.
The city is also installing new water and sewer lines throughout the downtown area, with many of the lines being replaced having been in the ground for more than a hundred years.
New sidewalks and streetscapes are being completed downtown, with that project expected to be completed in September.
"Cherryville is changing a lot," Dalton concluded, "and it's changing for the better. We're also looking at new housing developments."
City Manager Marilyn Sellers said her city is in a unique position to grow because it is one of the few municipalities in the state that provides water, sewer, gas and electric utilities to both residential and industrial customers.
Moss Lake, she noted, which is the city's water supply, is currently providing only 5 million gallons a day to customers. It has the potential, she said, to provide 25 million gallons a day.
Owning its own utility systems, Sellers said, allows the city to offer competitive rates and also to set a lower property tax rate as well.
Downtown revitalization is also ongoing in Kings Mountain, with investments so far totaling more than $8 million.
The newly established Two Kings Casino, owned and operated by the Catawba tribe, has also proved to be an economic boost for the city, Sellers said, noting that 126,940 people have visited the casino since it opened last July.
"We provide all utilities for the casino," said Sellers, "and it is going to be growing in the future."
Sellers also noted that new housing developments and industrial growth and expansion will be diversifying the town's tax base and will bring the revenues to allow the city to continue to provide excellent services.
Bill Poteat may be reached at 828-448-0195 or email@example.com.