RHEDC announces construction of second spec building in Waterford Business Park

The Waterford Business Park will soon be expanding with the addition of a second office building to be constructed with hopes of luring more business to Rock Hill.

The Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation (RHEDC) announced Wednesday that a second speculative building would be built in the business park area.

Stephen Turner, executive director of the RHEDC, said he's optimistic that the new spec building can sell as quickly as the initial one did, a move that local experts say would help bolster the city's identity as an attraction to corporate entities.

Speculative buildings are constructed with the intention of placing the structure on the market without a buyer waiting for it.

The initial building in Waterford Business Park was constructed in fall 2014 and received a letter of interest as early as the following December.

In the upcoming weeks, Rock Hill-based Cope Construction will begin work on the latest 40,000-square-foot spec building on a 7.5-acre site on Apex Drive.

"There's a strong demand for space in the Rock Hill/Charlotte market," said Turner.

The new project was made possible, officials said, by a $1.3 million, three-year interest-free loan from Santee Cooper's economic development loan program.

The initial spec building was sold to Beacon Partners, a Charlotte-based commercial real estate agency who is currently completing an interior renovation for metal finishing company Oerlikon Balzers Coating USA. The first project was funded by a $1.8 million loan from Santee Cooper, as well as financial support from the city of Rock Hill and the RHEDC.

The early success is good to hear, says Rob Youngblood, president of the York County Chamber of Commerce.

"The amenities offered in York County and Rock Hill are very strong," he said. "It's just another plus of lowering the risk to bring people here."

Laura Ullrich, associate professor of economics at Winthrop University, said building spec buildings often come with a level of calculated risk. She said that Charlotte's economic growth bodes well for its surrounding suburbs. Corporations will likely turn to Rock Hill for its lower tax rates and close access to the interstate, she said.

Ullrich said cities often wrestle with the idea of creating spec buildings, just in case they're forced to take on the economic responsibility. After three years, the interest rate for the new building will be half of the municipal market data index, which Rock Hill officials estimate will be between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. The expected completion date is Nov. 2017.

"Early on, it's kind of a ‘chicken and the egg’ issue," said Ullrich. "They don't want to build a building without a company coming, and companies don't want to come without a building that's already in place. With the growth in the area here, I don't see this as extraordinarily risky."

Turner said the RHEDC is prepared for all eventualities. He said it's likely that interested corporations would either be manufacturing tenants or possibly distribution.

David Thackham; 803-329-4066