A new economic development deal could result in a $9 million investment in the Riverwalk Business Park.
The York County Council approved first reading of a fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement between the county and Beacon Partners, listed under the project name “Project Lodestone,” to cover the investment needed for construction of a new speculative building in Riverwalk.
Construction of the building began in September, said David Swenson, York County’s economic development director. But a formal fee agreement with the company secures the benefits of an economic development pact while working on the future warehousing and manufacturing space, which can be filled by a new industry upon completion.
“One way or another, it’s happening,” Swenson said, “but this will give them a good rate.”
If Beacon ultimately sells or leases the building to another industry, the benefits of the fee deal may carry over to that business.
The Riverwalk building is one of several speculative or “spec” buildings around the county that have either been built or are planned for new industry, including ones in Fort Mill, the Waterford Business Park and the western part of York County.
The fee-in-lieu-of-tax deal allows the company to pay an assessed fee in place of ad valorem taxes on the property for a set period of time – 30 years or longer is the term set by state law.
Riverwalk’s spec building should be completed by the second quarter of 2015.
New liaison named
Also on Monday, the council appointed a new staff liaison to the Hospitality Tax Committee. The council’s finance and operations committee approved county treasurer Beth Latham or another designated member of the finance department to act as the liaison to the committee studying uses for the county’s hospitality tax – a job that primarily involves organizing and setting up the committee’s meetings.
The new liaison replaces Mikki Rentschler, the finance director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Some council members had become concerned Rentschler had a conflict of interest in the role since the CVB receives around half the funding raised by the hospitality tax.
County Manager Bill Shanahan said the change isn’t a judgment on anything Rentschler’s done with the job, “but just so nobody can say the board did or did not do anything because of someone’s position.”
Councilman Joe Cox, finance committee chairman, said he doesn’t have a problem with Rentschler continuing to attend the meetings to answer questions on tourism-related issues.
“I never had a problem with her attending the meetings,” he said. “What gives me heartburn is if she’s making recommendations to the board. But if she’s asked questions, she can give a direct answer.”
Shanahan said he hopes the committee members would not be persuaded to go along with anything if it went against their better judgment.
“Our department heads get calls from people all the time telling them, ‘You need to do this and this,’ ” he said. “And I would hope they do the right thing anyway.”