Rock Hill leaders update plans for “Knowledge Park” projects

dworthington@heraldonline.comFebruary 23, 2013 

  • Knowledge Park projects

    For information about what’s proposed for Rock Hill’s Knowledge Park, go to knowledgeparkrockhill.com.

Rock Hill officials debuted 18 projects Friday that they hope will transform the corridor between Winthrop University and downtown Rock Hill, making it a place where thousands will live, work, shop and play.

The projects are under the “Knowledge Park” banner, an economic development strategy designed to use technology to recruit high-tech firms and to redevelop the former Rock Hill Printing & Finishing textile site – once the epicenter of Rock Hill’s commerce.

Most of the 18 projects come from previously released studies or strategies.

The projects include:

• Redevelopment of the Lowenstein building and the power plant building at the textile site. The massive Lowenstein building could house hundreds of workers, city officials said.

• A civic center/performing arts center and hotel. These projects are part of the Downtown East development plan which includes a signature downtown park with a water fountain.

• An Innovation Center focused on bringing research and development firms to Rock Hill, possibly to work in partnership with Comporium.

• A combined Winthrop University/York County library.

• Classroom and studio space for Winthrop art students as well as faculty and staff housing and an Active Adult Community.

The projects are on the web at knowledgeparkrockhill.com. Each project has a brief description, a list of potential sites, preliminary market research and a list of possible incentives.

Interested firms are being asked to submit their qualifications. The deadline for submission is by April, and by summer the city and its partners hope to select partners for the various projects.

John M. Barnes Jr, executive vice president for marketing and business development for Comporium, said Friday’s announcements “were not about just building buildings” or “bringing IT companies.” He said the announcement is about harnessing community energy to turn a vision into a strategic plan.

Barnes was one of several community leaders who are part of the Knowledge Park Leadership Group, a public-private partnership that is overseeing the request for qualifications process. Invitations for qualifications have been sent to about 70 developers.

Joining Barnes on Friday to discuss the Knowledge Park plans were Lee Gardner, president and CEO of Family Trust Federal Credit Union; Gary Williams, owner of Williams and Fudge, Matt Dosch of Comporium and Fred Faircloth, president of Rock Hill Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Barnes, Williams and Faircloth said recruiting investors or firms for Knowledge Park is all about stressing the area’s quality of life.

Gardner said it is a question of where people want to be. If they want to be where the future is going to, they will want to be part of the Knowledge Park.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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