The long-time Rock Hill newspaper site downtown is moving toward redevelopment as a senior living destination.
The former Herald site at 132 W. Main St. has a developer with a plan for apartments, a parking structure, a pedestrian bridge over Dave Lyle Boulevard and other amenities. The developer doesn’t own the site, but has an option agreement with Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation which is helping with environmental cleanup and marketing of the property.
Stephen Turner, economic and urban development director with RHEDC, said Blue Wall Development of Greenville could begin construction early next year. Immediate attempts to contact Blue Wall for comment were unsuccessful.
“Blue Wall is planning a senior residential community there, primarily independent living apartments,” Turner said. “They will have some health facilities, assisted living, that sort of thing. But it’s primarily apartments.”
Think Westminster Towers, but downtown.
“It’s a Westminster Towers for the 21st century,” Turner said.
Westminster, on India Hook Road, is a retirement community offering apartments, dining, health and wellness programs, and gathering spaces since 1989.
The economic development group has it under contract, allowing them to work with the state on environmental and other issues that could slow redevelopment. At the same time RHEDC can market property and pass on its sale agreement to a developer. It’s similar to what RHEDC does at the former Good Motor Company and other sites.
On June 10, Rock Hill City Council gave initial approval to giving up property rights on the site ahead of redevelopment. Paul Dillingham, city attorney, said the city has claims to narrow strips of land in the middle of the almost five-acre site.
“The title investigation has revealed those need to be cleaned up to get the site ready for sale, from a title insurance perspective,” he said.
The city would give up the rights to that property, to the current owner.
“Regardless of whether this sale works out or not, if the site is going to be redeveloped, this needs to be done,” Dillingham said.
Council gave unanimous approval to the step needed for a sale. Mayor John Gettys didn’t find it odd there may be claims on the property in need of organizing.
“It’s the oldest part of Rock Hill,” he said.
Location is a critical piece to the redevelopment puzzle. Unlike Westminster Towers, with its campus approach to senior living, the Blue Wall project would aim to connect seniors with walkable destinations already set in the heart of Rock Hill.
“It’s designed to be very intentionally downtown, where residents can be part of downtown,” Turner said.
If the sale goes through and development comes, new residences could be open in 2021. The sale could be complete by the end of this year, Turner said.
“I think the intention would be to start construction the first half of 2020,” Turner said. “Probably take about a year.”
Turner’s group looks to facilitate redevelopment at the Herald site while continuing work on the Good Motor site just up Dave Lyle. Turner said his group could know something more about future plans there within a month or two.
“We have a developer who is interested in that property right now,” he said. ”We’re not under any contract.”
An advantage Turner’s group has now is the real estate scene downtown, where new additions from restaurants to a sports arena to a parking deck have leaders envisioning an influx of new residents and guests.
“There’s a lot of interest in downtown right now, especially in the Knowledge Park area,” Turner said.
The Herald site came available when the newspaper moved less than half a mile last fall to 140 Main St. The former newspaper site for decades printed papers for distribution throughout York, Lancaster and Chester counties.