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Bleachery site in 'good shape' for renovation

Environmental assessment of the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co. site is nearly complete, and with the results, the city must decide what its next steps will be.

Senior engineer Steven Irminger with Irminger Consulting has been working with city staff at the site, known as the Bleachery, since April, when the city purchased it and entered the voluntary clean-up contract process.

At that point, data collected over the years at the site had been vast, Irminger said in a City Council workshop Monday night, but it had left large pockets of land untested. There were questions over potential problems those areas could contain.

However, Irminger said much of that concern is unnecessary after more extensive testing.

"For a site with industry as long as this and the amount of area involved, that we came out without having to excavate 10,000 feet of dirt is good," he said. "It will influence how we develop the site, but we're in good shape."

At the site, consultants noted low levels of low-concentrated solvents, moderate levels of petroleum and gasoline and chromium.

None of the levels were of concern, Irminger said.

As part of that process, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control will review the assessment and decide if any areas are of major concern and require remediation, but Irminger said that wouldn't be the case. Without addressing any of those issues, he said the city will not be able to put residential areas on the ground floor of any future buildings on the site.

More assessment will follow.

The city will work on development strategies for the Bleachery in the upcoming months, including meeting with private developers, creating a website dedicated to marketing the Bleachery and looking into eligibility for tax incentives.

In other action Monday night, council members passed the first reading of an ordinance to rezone 41 acres along Dave Lyle Boulevard, Red River Road and Cross Pointe Drive to Planned Development Commercial. Council also annexed parts of Red River Road into the city.

Rock Hill developer Warren Norman is developing 8 acres of the site for an Academy Sports + Outdoors Store. That $10 million project is slated for a February opening.

The other project discussed is a 136,000-square-foot warehouse and retail space with a gas station. It was reported last week that the site would be home to a Sam's Club, but city officials would not confirm that Monday night. The space is typical of the big-box buildings like Sam's Club, Costco and BJ Wholesale Club.

The ordinance must pass a second reading before it is adopted.

The council Monday night also:

Renewed City Manager David Vehaun's contract to 2013 and gave him an excellent rating;

Passed the first reading of an ordinance clarifying that a place defined as retail tobacco store can't also operate as a bar or food establishment;

Supported a resolution for a $16 million grant request from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help road improvements along S.C. 161, including ramp improvements at Interstate 77 and bridge replacement on Manchester Creek; and

Recognized 23 city employees who helped in the mutual aid for storm clean-up and electric service restoration in parts of eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Irene.