KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. — Preston Brown and his father have put their lives into building the Hound's Drive-In and Campground for the past 11 years.
What You Need To Know
- Albemarle Corporation is a specialty chemicals manufacturing company based in Charlotte
- As of 2020, Albemarle was the largest provider of lithium for electric vehicle batteries
- In the 1980s, Albemarle mined for lithium in Cleveland County; Kings Mountain has one of the largest supplies of lithium in the U.S.
- Albemarle just bought 60 acres owned by Hound's Drive-In and Campground for $40 million; the land sits next to its old lithium pit
Brown says he grew up watching his dad run the Joy Theater in Kings Mountain, and he enjoyed being in the movie business.
Together they built the Hound's Drive-In in Kings Mountain. It quickly became the go-to spot during the pandemic when indoor movie theaters were closed.
“We just done a lot. That year was something else. It was pretty amazing, it was fun, a lot of work but I enjoyed it," Brown said.
When nights at the drive-in were consistently selling out, Brown invested in more projectors and built more screens.
He knew the property behind the drive-in belonged to Albemarle Corporation, a chemical manufacturing company based in Charlotte. Albemarle had mined for lithium in the 1980s and the open pit, now filled with water, can be seen when walking the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail.
Kings Mountain has one of the largest supplies of lithium underground. Lithium is an element used to power electric vehicles, phones and laptops.
Brown says Albemarle has offered to buy the drive-in land from him in the past, but he refused.
This year, Albemarle came back with another offer, and after discussion, Brown sold his 60 acres for $40 million.
“I may build another campground, may build another drive-in. The options are still on the table for a lot of things, but I haven’t decided yet," Brown said.
The campground and drive-in are staying for another five years. According to their negotiations, Brown doesn't have to clear the property out until December 2026.
Brown says he will continue to show movies and house campers for the next few years.
In a statement to Spectrum News 1, Albemarle Corporation said:
"As you know, lithium is a critical element to support the global drive for sustainability, clean energy initiatives and greenhouse gas reduction. As one the largest global producers of lithium, Albemarle is committed to investing in greater and sustainable lithium extraction and conversion capabilities. Kings Mountain is one of the few locations in the world with the potential to play an important role in the global energy movement.
There is land in the surrounding community that in the future could be important to our growth plans, which are still in development. Access to land and minimizing disturbances to our neighbors caused by that growth are our top priorities. As our view of local growth comes together, we will engage with the community fully and transparently so that our potential development plans are informed and enhanced by community input prior to the submission of any permit applications. We look forward to those engagements in the near future and appreciate the community support needed to make any potential plans a reality."