Cato seeks rezoning for mixed-use development at I-77, Gold Hill Road

Efforts to transform the former Knights Stadium property and 350 adjacent acres near Fort Mill into a mix of offices, retail shops and residences faces its first hurdle Monday: rezoning of the property to planned development commercial.

The York County Council will hold a public hearing on the request by the land owner, the Cato fashion company. County staff has recommended rezoning the land.

As envisioned by Cato and its partner, Lincoln Harris, a Charlotte developer that specializes in high-end office space, the property at the intersection of Interstate 77 and Gold Hill Road could be another Ballantyne-like development attracting high-paying jobs and more residents.

The additional residents and accompanying increase in traffic are concerns of the county and Fort Mill School officials.

The first phase of development calls for 240 apartments, a 150-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of retail space and 500,000 square feet of office space.

Overall, the plan calls for 5,270,000 square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 600 residential units.

The maximum amount of office, retail and residential space is flexible, as a second traffic study will not be done until improvements to the Gold Hill Road-I-77 interchange are completed in 2018. The interchange improvements are a Pennies For Progress project.

County planning staff said the intensive development would put more traffic on existing roads that are inadequate to carry current traffic.

Fort Mill School officials are concerned about the number of new students the project will generate. According to an analysis by the school district, the project would add 391 students.

Commercial and multi-family housing pays property taxes that fund schools. But the school district, in a letter to the county, said the tax revenue from the projects does not cover anticipated costs.

The county is also scheduled to consider three fee-in-lieu tax agreements for existing companies that are expanding. Typically fee-in-lieu agreements reduce a company’s tax bills by 43 percent over the next 30 years.

Agreements are being considered for Atlas Copco Compressors in the Waterford Business Park in Rock Hill, Oerlikon Balzers in the Tech Park Business Park in Rock Hill and Harrell Industries in the East York Industrial Park near York.

Atlas Copco’s projected investment is $21 million at property it owns on Paragon Way in Riverwalk in Rock Hill. The company is moving some of its manufacturing operations from Waterford to the new site.

Oerlikon Balzers projected investment is $15 million in property it owns in Rock Hill. The expansion is expected to create about 20 jobs, according to York County economic development officials.

Harrell Industries’ projected investment in the East York Industrial Park is $2.5 million for a new operations center.

Don Worthington: 803-329-4066, @rhherald_donw