Enquirer Herald

York moves to annex electric coop’s development site

Plans for the city of York to annex about 75 acres around York Electric Cooperative — the site of a potential commercial and residential development — have received initial approval from the York City Council.

Marc Howie, vice president of community development for the coop, said the land will likely be the site of a development anchored by “possibly an upper-end grocery store, an upper-end retail-type store that we think would be a good, unique fit, or a destination restaurant for York.”

Howie said the company frequently receives inquiries about the land — located on both sides of Arrow Road, behind the existing electric coop office. He noted that because it’s near the Lowe’s and Walmart stores on the other side of S.C. 5, it’s an ideal location for development.

However, he said no plans or negotiations are underway right now.

York Mayor Eddie Lee said plans for “a major economic development project” at the site have been in the works for several years. He said it would eventually bring in tax revenue to benefit the city.

“They’re good corporate citizens,” Lee said. “What they’re going to put there is going to be first class.”

A second council vote on the annexation, planned at the March 5 meeting, is required before it would be final.

Howie said the company would probably involve a local developer when it’s ready to move forward on the project. He said specifics of what would be in the development would depend on the main tenant.

“It’s going to be driven by an anchor tenant that we think is the right fit,” Howie said. “We do get calls quite frequently about it, and we listen to a lot of folks. We want to put together a nice master plan.”

Paul Basha, CEO of the electric cooperative, said the company asked the city to annex the land so it would know which set of development rules would apply to the roads and other infrastructure.

“We’re going to try to do something that would be very nice for the York community,” Basha said. “That’s kind of a gateway for the York community, so we want to make sure we do it well.”

Howie said the company is keeping open the option of developing the property or selling it. “We’re not in a huge rush if it’s not the right fit,” he said. “We’re keeping our options open at this time.”

The existing electrical coop office on Alexander Love Highway is already in the city limits. Basha said revenue from a development or land sale would help keep electric rates down for customers.

Howie said the community would benefit as well. “We like to provide jobs and tax dollars for our school district,” he said.

He noted that this would not be the company’s first foray into economic development.

York Electric is the owner and developer of the 465-acre East York Industrial Park, developed in 1987, when it was the first business park in western York County. Since then, Howie said, the park has helped create over 1,000 jobs and $75 million in capital investment.