A gateway. A pedestrian link. A network connector.
A recovery opportunity
There is no question the Lineberger Connector Project will be an important economic engine for this region of North Carolina, the surrounding communities, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Given the devastating impacts that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has had on the region through the loss of textile businesses, it is easy to understand why the cities of Gastonia and Lowell and Gaston County have placed so much emphasis on making the Lineberger Connector a priority as a solution to boost the economic vitality in this part of the county.
The recession, following NAFTA’s ratification in 1994, had a detrimental impact on this region of North Carolina. Between 1995 and 1999, NAFTA caused the closing of the seven (7) largest industrial utility customers (textiles) and a total of 54 manufacturing plants that resulted in the loss of more than 7,500 jobs. In 2000, additional plant closures impacted local tax and utility revenues even more—resulting in more than $70 million in lost revenues just in water/wastewater. At the end of 2000, Gaston County had lost more than 13,000 jobs. To date, Gaston County’s economy has only been able to recover to 45% of its pre-NAFTA economic glory in the early 1990’s, leaving the county far behind what it once was.
The City of Gastonia, in conjunction with the City of Lowell and Gaston County, seek $18,192,385 (58%) in RAISE Discretionary Grant funds to complete the $31,318,535 package needed to implement the Lineberger Connector Project between the two communities. The City of Gastonia has committed a combination of matching funds from both local and private sources in the amount of $13,126,150 (42%). As shown below, the Lineberger Connector Project is located in Census Tract 313.02, which is identified as an Area of Persistent Poverty, with a 56% minority and 78% low income population.
The Lineberger Connector Project is the extension of Aberdeen Boulevard from Cox Road to the east that will open up access to approximately 400 acres of infill property with superior access to the I-85 corridor. Major improvements to the intersection of Aberdeen Boulevard and Cox Road are also included in the project and utility connections will be made and carried throughout the proposed roadway network.
More specifically, the Lineberger Connector Project consists of the following:
- Aberdeen Boulevard Extension (3-lane collector street)
- 2,410 ft. from Cox Road to the current terminus (widening)
- 4,675 ft. from the current terminus to the eastern property boundary (new construction)
- Cox Road/Aberdeen Boulevard Intersection Improvements
- Construction of a quadrant intersection
- Water Line Extensions (7,100 LF)
- Sewer Line Extensions (5,600 LF)
- Electric Extensions (70,000 LF of underground cable)
- Broadband Extensions (25,000 LF of fiber)
The Charlotte Metro region is one of the fastest growing areas in North Carolina and the United States. The Lineberger Connector will unlock property that is prime for local and regional development. With NorthPoint Development committed to the project and both public and private support, the Lineberger Connector Project will stimulate approximately $322.5 million in project value for the Greater Gaston area, assisting these communities to recover from the negative impacts of NAFTA and loss of textiles.
There is a strong partnership between the City of Gastonia, City of Lowell and Gaston County, and NorthPoint Development has recently purchased 365 acres between NC Highway 7 to the north, I-85 to the south, Cox Road to the west, and South Main Street to the east for Gateway85. This property is perfectly situated between exits 21 and 22 on I-85. The development will include over 3,560,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing, distribution center, industrial, and warehousing facilities. With the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 highlighting just how critical our nation’s supply chain is, the proposed development will provide modern warehouse space that will support growth and development for several sectors including e-commerce, manufacturing, reshoring companies and anticipated changes in the supply chain.
Phase one of the industrial park is currently under construction and includes two buildings totaling 900,000 square feet. In addition, Gaston County is actively considering incentives and working on an economic development agreement for Project Hearth, which would occupy a third building. This project will result in a total investment of $135 million made by the end of 2022.
An economic impact study has been completed for the proposed development which estimates a total of 10,181 permanent new jobs (direct & indirect) with a total annual compensation of $462,545,507. This will increase the total number of jobs in Gaston County more than 10%.
The Lineberger Connector project will be an economic transformation for the region.
2021 RAISE Application - Lineberger Connector