Rock Hill approves incentives for Saluda Street conference center, Family Trust HQ

08/11/2014 8:52 PM

08/12/2014 6:47 AM

The Rock Hill City Council has approved $50,000 in incentives for two building projects around downtown that city leaders hope will spur more economic growth.

Most of the incentive money – $43,250 – approved Monday night will be used by Family Trust for the credit union’s new banking headquarters under construction on West White Street. The rest was approved for the South Atlantic Episcopal District of the AME Zion church to build a new conference center on Saluda Street.

The incentives are given as reimbursements of certain fees that businesses pay the city of Rock Hill. Most of the money for the conference center reimburses the company’s building permit fees, which are required to start renovations to the old Edison Mall building.

Councilwoman Ann Williamson said the $6,843 in incentives for the future Saluda Street conference center will make a big difference. The conference center, she said Monday, “is really going to be a great positive step” for the area.

In recent years, city officials have focused more than $5 million in the Saluda Street area to clean up old properties and improve the look of streets and sidewalks. A new conference center, Williamson said, will benefit and build on the upgrades and attract visitors to Saluda Street and the downtown area.

She noted other economic development growth nearby which she hopes signals good times ahead for Saluda Street. Across the street from the conference center site a new restaurant is preparing to open.

That restaurant owner is the president of a newly formed business association on Saluda Street. The group is growing, Williamson said, and may expand its interests to Albright Road, where other new retail or restaurant businesses have opened recently.

The business group’s mission, she said, is to give Saluda Street and nearby business owners a voice to encourage economic development. The group meets the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.

Money for the AME Zion conference center comes from a fund designed to help businesses pay for new construction or building renovations. The city’s growth management incentives come from the city’s economic development account and require council approval.

That economic development account recently got a $1 million boost when the city sold land near the Rock Hill-York County Airport to QuikTrip for construction of a new gas station. Money from the sale of city-owned land goes into the economic development fund.

City Council members then can use the money to encourage new business or new construction. In establishing the growth management incentive program in 2005, city officials said they wanted to target the downtown – or “Old Town” area – and Rock Hill’s business parks.

Businesses can apply for reimbursements for costs such as building permit fees, various utility start-up costs and fire impact fees associated with new buildings.

Half of the incentives given to Family Trust will reimburse what the credit union has paid for a building permit for its new $7 million headquarters. Both the bank’s headquarters and the AME Zion conference center are estimated to be about 35,000 square feet.

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