YORK -- Construction crews scuttling around lots in York this spring are evidence that businesses is picking up in the White Rose City.
East Liberty Street and the S.C. 5 bypass have led the way in drawing economic growth.
Just this week, construction crews broke ground on an Exxon On the Run gas station at the intersection of the S.C. 5 bypass and S.C. 161 across from the York School District Office.
The 4,500-square-foot building should be completed by July, said contractor George Roach, co-owner of Progressive Builders of Greenville.
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Future plans also call for the site to hold a small fast food restaurant, he said.
A Zaxby's restaurant also is under construction on the corner of Ole East Pointe Road and East Liberty Street.
The 2,700-square-foot Zaxby's will seat about 64 people. It is expected to open in the next couple months and will serve a variety of Southern-style food including chicken fingers and Buffalo wings. The York location will be the second in York County. There's also one in Rock Hill.
"We're excited to offer Zaxby's to York," said district manager Chuck Wilson in a recent press release. "Zaxby's exceptional taste and family atmosphere are what first attracted me to this restaurant concept -- I'm confident York residents will become as passionate about it as I am."
The restaurant will employ between 40 to 50 people, the release states.
A new McDonald's and Wing King recently opened along East Liberty Street. Now, renovations are under way at the old McDonald's building and it's expected to become a seafood restaurant, town officials said. Next to the Wal-Mart, the strip mall section also is being expanded.
The new development is a positive sign that the city is on the verge of major economic growth, locals say.
"York's coming into its own, where there are enough people here that the demographics show that we can support more businesses, especially consumer-driven businesses -- restaurants and things of that nature," said local real estate agent Tracy Ferguson.
Paul Boger, director of the Greater York Chamber of Commerce, said his office does its best to provide demographics and other pertinent information about York to prospective businesses.
The improved infrastructure in York has clearly been a draw for businesses, he said, noting as an example the expansion of East Liberty Street.
"I think the completion of that East Liberty project gives a better traffic count for people, especially for businesses who are looking for volume," he said. "It makes it much easier for people to go there and access those businesses and for businesses to have a much more open type feel for them."
With plans for it to be widened, the S.C. 5 bypass is expected to become York's new avenue for economic development, Boger said.
Plans have been made and approved on first reading for Olde York Square, a development that would bring multiple businesses including a grocery store, banks and drug store at the intersection of the S.C. 5 and S.C. 5 bypass.
"I remember when the bypass was barely even used," said Ferguson, who recently opened an office on the road. "Now it's backed up past my office all the way to the York Electric Co-op in the mornings."
The visibility and undeveloped land makes it attractive to developers, he said.
"The growth and number of cars coming through here are increasing every day," he said.