'Knowledge Park' is focus of Rock Hill City Council retreat

adouglas@heraldonline.comJanuary 31, 2013 

— Rock Hill will solicit next week for developers eyeing projects and land in the city’s Knowledge Park area.

City leaders want to attract developers who can bring new business to the area stretching from Rock Hill’s downtown to Winthrop University.

About 100 acres and more than 700,000 square feet of existing buildings are available to develop, Rock Hill Economic Development Director Stephen Turner told city leaders during a daylong retreat Wednesday.

The Knowledge Park projects in the development solicitation include adding Winthrop student housing and a Rock Hill school district office to the area.

Road work along White Street is one component of readying the area for new business.

The city also plans to build an electric substation “right in the middle of Knowledge Park,” said Scott Motsinger, city utilities director.

Much of the substation’s equipment, he said, will be underground, making the electrical service more reliable for future businesses.

It will be essential to have reliable electricity in Knowledge Park because the city wants to attract technology-based jobs there, Mayor Doug Echols said Wednesday.

“We certainly can’t market and sell that Knowledge Park area without there being that assurance,” Echols said.

The city hasn’t determined the exact location of the substation, Motsinger said. It’s slated to go between Constitution Boulevard and Winthrop on one of four pieces of land owned by the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp.

Sandra Oborokumo, the newest City Council member, asked on Wednesday what was being done to help businesses thrive outside Knowledge Park and downtown.

“How do you reach out to people on Saluda to get them involved?” Oborokumo asked. “How do we connect someone like a June Barnette?”

Barnette is the owner of June’s Car Cleaners which has been on Saluda Street for 22 years. He will be closing his business after learning recently his rent is going up.

Rock Hill can’t “control whether one business is successful,” Turner said. Instead, he said, RHEDC and the city aim to create a business-friendly environment.

Wednesday’s annual City Council retreat was primarily a planning and discussion meeting, no action was taken.

Anna Douglas 803-329-4068

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