A proposed master development agreement for Knowledge Park should be sent to the Rock Hill City Council by the end of December, officials say.
The city is “exclusively” negotiating with the partnership of Sora-Phelps to develop the area between downtown and Winthrop University, Stephen Turner, the city’s economic development director, said Friday. The city’s overall vision for developing the area is called Knowledge Park, which is expected to have a mix of high-tech research firms, residential units, retail and other businesses.
Sora-Phelps was selected in 2013 to be the Knowledge Park master developer. A preliminary memorandum of understanding signed by the city and Sora-Phelps expired in September. Officials had hoped that the master development agreement would be signed before September.
Sora-Phelps has delivered two of three required documents to the city, Turner said after a meeting of the Knowledge Park Leadership Group, a collection of business leaders who have formed to advocate for the project.
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Sora-Phelps has given the city a 20-page spreadsheet detailing project financing and an outline of what a master developer agreement should contain.
The third document is the master development agreement.
Sora-Phelps, a partnership between Sora Development of Towson, Md., and Phelps Development of Greeley, Colo., has proposed a plan for 19 buildings on the former Bleachery site with 1.3 million square feet of retail, restaurant, office and residential space that would create more than 1,000 jobs.
Turner said it could be between 90 and 120 days before the City Council makes a decision on a master agreement. Turner said the process could take that long because of the project’s complexity.
The leadership group was briefed on discussions in private with Sora-Phelps on Friday. No details from that meeting were released.
The leadership group also was updated on efforts to expand the special tax district for the Knowledge Park site, which once housed the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co., also called the Bleachery.
The Rock Hill school board has agreed to extend the tax district to 2039 from 2029. The debt capacity for the tax district remains at $40 million, of which the city has already spent $6.5 million on roads, utilities and stormwater improvements.
The York County Council also must approve changes to the district because it gets tax revenue from the Rock Hill site.
Andy Shene, leadership group chairman, said “erroneous” information on the tax district was given to the county council at its last meeting. “It’s important we get factual information to the council,” he said.
The leadership group will send a letter to the York County Council, urging members to act on the tax district. Tax district funds are a key component in developing Knowledge Park, city officials have said.
A proposed streetcar line linking Winthrop to the downtown area also was discussed Friday. Some Rock Hill school board members initially said they didn’t want any of the tax money the district would give up to be spent on the streetcar system. The request was dropped when the board agreed to extend the tax district.
City officials have said the streetcar is a concept and its future would largely be determined by those willing to invest in the Knowledge Park plan.
In August, the City Council asked for more information on the streetcar. Turner said that process has been delayed because of negotiations on the master development agreement. A personnel change at Sora during the summer delayed streetcar discussions, Turner said.
Streetcar information should be ready for the council to review by the spring, Turner said.