In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
The Cabarrus Economic Development team is taking this Albert Einstein quote to heart as they focus efforts on finding a new tenant for the Philip Morris industrial campus – one that brings substantial tax base, employment opportunities and the ability to transform an entire 2,100-acre corridor of Concord.
“Alevo’s bankruptcy filing and potential closing came about quickly,” said Robert Carney, executive director. “We all hoped it was going to be a transformative project for our county, but, unfortunately, that appears to be unlikely at this time. Given the prospect that the bankruptcy will lead to a closure of the Alevo facility, we are working in earnest to find a new tenant.”
Looking ahead, both the EDC and Keeneland Capital, the property’s ownership group, are positioning the massive industrial campus as a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Cabarrus County and Concord to actively market.
“We’re strategically aligned in the fact that we want the exact same thing and what’s best for Cabarrus County,” Carney said. “We want a major employer that brings major tax base to the area and has the ability to transform that entire corridor. That’s something we’ve been talking about together since day one and I’m really excited to see that.”
What makes the Philip Morris property special is its development potential. As one of only a handful of shovel-ready megasites available in North Carolina, all options are on the table for development, Carney said.
“There is 3 million square feet of industrial manufacturing facility space on the site. If we have a large enough project that would like some or all of that building, that’s great and we’ll make that work,” he said. “But, if we find someone who wants the 2,100 acres as a greenfield site, or wants to bring it back down to pad, we already have a preliminary engineering formula for how we could make that happen.”
And, Carney added, if all of those options aren’t enough, the site also sits near 1,600 acres of undeveloped property that could be used for expansion or future development.
So what kind of company would be the right fit for the parcel? “The ownership group, the EDC, the landowners around the area, and the city would love to see an employer that brings in enough jobs and tax investment that they influence that entire corridor,” he said.
“In a perfect world, it would be a true campus – a sub-city type of development where you have 10 thousand employees who live and work all around it because of its headquarters existence,” Carney said. He also noted that the Philip Morris property was included in Charlotte Regional Partnership’s proposal for consideration of Amazon’s second headquarters.
Now that development possibilities have been identified, the EDC team is sharing the unique opportunity with its network, including the Charlotte Regional Partnership, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and broker consultant networks. Recently, an international site consultant who works throughout Europe spent a day and half touring the campus – on the ground and in the air.
“Our job is to constantly be filling our community with good jobs and good investments, so we’re showing this property to the world and letting everyone know it’s available,” Carney said. “The site’s proximity to center city Charlotte and two airports, the ability of adding a commuter or light rail, and the sheer growth that’s taking place in our community and in Charlotte make it phenomenally attractive.”
He added, “It’s a competitive world because there are so few possible projects of this size. That being said, I do believe that this is will be one of the most attractive sites in the state of North Carolina.”