Fort Mill hit a major growth spurt in 2008.
By annexing the 360-acre Kanawha development and 40-acre York County Museum site and more than 2,000 acres held by Clear Springs Development, Leroy Springs and Co. and the Anne Springs Close Greenway, the town more than doubled its geographic footprint.
It wasn't a hastily made decision, though. Both projects appeared on the town's radar long before 2008. The Kanawha and museum project had been in the works since Jane Spratt McColl donated the land to the York County Culture and Heritage Foundation in 1998. Clear Springs has been developing property held by the Springs family for years, including Baxter Village and Bradley Industrial Park. Parts of Bradley were included in the annexation, although Baxter was not.
Aside from doubling the size of Fort Mill, the projects will bring commercial and industrial development to counter additional residential growth. The Clear Springs properties include Bradley and the more than 800-acre McAlhaney tract slated exclusively for industrial development, which carries much higher property tax rates than residential property. The properties also include several large tracts zoned for a mix of commercial and residential uses modeled on the Baxter Village-style new urbanism theme.
Kanawha, too, will feature a mix of residential and commercial, all built to top "green" standards. The Kanawha project also includes a site for a future Fort Mill School District elementary school. Over the years, Clear Springs has donated land for several Fort Mill schools.
Probably the biggest factor in favor of the massive Springs package was an analysis that showed over the life of the developments, the projects would generate more than $100 million more in taxes for Fort Mill than the cost of providing services to the developments. The school district would see more than $130 million in tax revenue from the projects.
The future of the Kanawha and museum sites are somewhat muddied, however. In November, the Kanawha developers and Sustainable Development Group, the development arm of York County's Culture and Heritage Foundation, announced the projects are on hold because of the economy. Lots for the residential component were initially going to go on the market in 2009. Now, however, "We don't know the exact time frame," said Sig Huitt, a spokesman for Cherokee and the museum foundation.
"We will continue to watch the markets."