FORT MILL -- York County Council gave initial approval Monday to a development agreement that gives the county several ways to demolish the 20-story tower if it isn't converted into a retirement home as MorningStar Ministries proposed.
Founder and Director Rick Joyner said MorningStar Ministries will have financing ahead of the six month deadline to turn the uncompleted 20-story tower into a senior citizens' resort.
"I understand and appreciate the questions, especially financial feasibility," Joyner said. "We will hit those requirements ahead of schedule. We are the ones everyone wants to lend to right now."
Joyner has yet to say how much money the project will require.
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York County's tallest building was scheduled to be demolished earlier this year, and if this development agreement is breached, it would be razed. The building was started in the 1980s, and nothing has been done to it since evangelist Jim Bakker left in disgrace in 1988.
If financing isn't secured in six months from the site plan approval and if plans aren't approved by the International Code Council, the agreement calls for the tower to be torn down, York County Planning Director Susan Britt said. Other minor details also could result in the building being destroyed.
County employees worked since January to create the development agreement with the nonprofit organization. The five-year development agreement on the 52-acre former Heritage USA property can be extended with council's approval, Britt said.
While Regent Park Homeowner's Association has no particular interest in the tower decision, board member Vincent Izzo said he had serious concerns about the construction and subsequent traffic on their private roads.
Council members proposed having developers and parties that use Regent Parkway and other private roads within the development enter into an agreement about their maintenance before the development agreement is passed, but the council has no authority to compel them to do so.
Councilmen Joe Cox and Tom Smith pointed out that no tax revenue would be brought into the county from the retirement center, even if the roads are taken into the county system.
Joyner said he understands concerns over the tax revenue.
"There are other much greater resources than just tax base," Joyner said. "We're bringing them on with the intent of them being active in the community and within our affinity group. They'll be doing more than just playing shuffleboard."
There will be another public hearing in November before the development agreement could take effect. A second vote on the agreement and the planned development is scheduled for Oct. 15.