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Rock Hill business leaders want to adjust tax district

Rock Hill business leaders want to adjust tax district

Rock Hill officials want to expand the boundaries of a special tax district and extend the deadline for issuing debt.

The action is part of the Knowledge Park economic development strategy designed to bring more jobs to the downtown area and revitalize property, especially the former Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co. plant, commonly called the Bleachery.

The Knowledge Park Leadership Group, a group of business leaders with a vested interest in downtown, has agreed to push for the changes, seen as an integral step in redeveloping the Bleachery property.

The leadership group will present expanding the tax incremental financing district to the Rock Hill school board and the York County Council. Both the board and council boards must agree to the changes and sign off on collecting any new tax revenue from the changes. Both approved the district when it was formed in 2004.

Updating the special tax district is one of the primary goals of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. for 2014. Several members of the leadership group are also RHEDC members.

The city wants to expand the district to include properties along West Main and Black streets, between Wilson Street and Stewart Avenue.

Current boundaries of the irregularly shaped district are Oakland, Columbia, Allen avenues, West Main and White streets.

The city also wants to change the financial limits for the district. The district was formed with the intent of selling bonds to update the infrastructure serving the district. The additional real estate tax resulting from the new development would be used to repay the bonds.

The concept is called tax-incremental financing. The maximum debt of the district was set at $40 million and a life of 25 years.

The city wants to adjust the debt ceiling for inflation, increasing it to $56 million. The life of the district would be extended to 2039.

While the debt ceiling would be $56 million, the amount of bonds the city could issue would be capped at $49.47 million – the debt ceiling minus the $6.5 million of debt the city has already issued through the district. The debt includes demolition of Bleachery properties and improvements to White Street.

The infrastructure improvements would be the city’s contribution to the redevelopment plans for the Bleachery site. Developers Sora-Phelps recently presented its master plan for redeveloping the site to the City Council, a $134 million investment that could create as many as 1,000 new jobs.

In a related move, the leadership group also agreed to take a role in advocating for a streetcar line that would link Winthrop University to downtown. The streetcar has been seen by some as an essential element in redeveloping the Bleachery site.

In September 2012, the leadership group endorsed the “Rock Hill Streetcar Feasibility Study” as an important element of the Knowledge Park plan.

Stephen Turner, the city’s economic developer, told the leadership group, that a “Streetcar Implementation Committee” should be formed, with the City Council creating the new committee.

The committee would have members that have an interest in redeveloping the Bleachery site, such as the city, Comporium – developer of the Downtown East office building – Winthrop University, the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp, the leadership group and affected property owners.

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, City Manager David Vehaun presented conceptual plans for a new water tank near the intersection of West Main and Laurel streets. The tank would replace an existing structure.

Because the water tank would be at one of the entrances to Knowledge Park, the city is considering its options to make the water tank an icon for the area. An option being considered is special lighting for the tank using longer-lasting diode lighting. The City Council will review options for the tank during a noon work session Thursday.

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Apartments, offices, other development coming to Riverwalk in Rock Hill

Apartments, offices, other development coming to Riverwalk in Rock Hill

Apartments and office space will be the next two big additions to the Riverwalk development in Rock Hill.

A 36,000-square-foot mixed-use building, which is expected to start construction in the late spring, will combine apartments and offices with retail on the ground floor. The $4.5 million building is one of several planned in the River District area of the development that will bring 200,000 square feet of mixed-use space.

Plus, Riverwalk planners are in discussions with a developer that would add another building to the River District that will office-over-retail to the development.

And Riverwalk owner Assured Group has started construction on the  development’s first apartments, being developed by Assured’s Wise Living. About 150 of the 300 apartments in that complex should be ready for tenants by year end, says Dave Williams, Assured Group development director.

Adding residents and office tenants to Riverwalk is vital to the development of the  $600 million, 1,000-acre project, he says.

“It’s important that we’re able to show density for future retailers,” Williams said in a telephone chat this morning.

Lots of other things are going on in Riverwalk. Among them:

  • Rock Hill and York County are discussing incentives for a 140-employee distribution center that’s planned in Riverwalk Business Park. The $28 million business would join Physicians Choice Laboratory Services and Exel, a distribution center for Energizer batteries, in the park. Williams said he can’t reveal details of that project.

  • Upper Palmetto YMCA plans to lease half of a 30,000-square-foot building planned at Riverwalk. Construction starts on that structure, which will offer offices on the second floor, later this spring. It should be complete by year end, Williams said. The Express YMCA will contain a “world-class spinning room and other amenities that complement Riverwalk’s active lifestyle,” says Moe Bell, CEO of Upper Palmetto YMCA.

  • A BMX Supercross Track, for outdoor bike competitions, is expected to open in June. The cycling course, which will be open to amateur and professional riders, will host the 2014 USA national championships in October. It’s one of two cycling venues for Riverwalk. The other is Giordana Velodrome, which opened in March 2012.

  • Riverwalk has added a third preferred homebuilder: Chesmar Homes of Houston. Chesmar, which joins Saussy Burbank and Evans Coghill Homes as Riverwalk's homebuilders, has bought about 20 lots so far. Its model home opens Saturday. Riverwalk ended 2013 with 95 lots sold to homebuilders. “The entire first phase is sold,” Williams says.

The River District mixed-use building is a three-story structure that will contain 24 apartments on the upper floors. On ground level, the building will have 8,000 square feet of retail.

“We’ve got strong interest in the building,” Williams says.

Simon & Watson Construction Inc. of Fort Mill is the general contractor for the building. 

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PCLS buys MultiGen Diagnostics, brings operations to Rock Hill

PCLS buys MultiGen Diagnostics, brings operations to Rock Hill

Physicians Choice Laboratory Services of Rock Hill has bought MultiGen Diagnostics Inc., a medical diagnostics company, and folded it into the PCLS office in the Riverwalk development.

MultiGen Diagnostics, which was previously based in San Diego, will retain its name. Its website already lists a Rock Hill address for its operations.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. It wasn't immediately clear whether the transaction will bring more employees to Rock Hill.

PCLS provides nationwide laboratory and toxicology services as well as pharmacogenetics offerings — examining how individuals respond to drugs, based on genetics. It also offers programs for pain management, family health, substance abuse and medical specialties such as cardiology, neurology and orthopedics.

Joe Wiegel, president of PCLS, says the acquisition may allow the PCLS to use MultiGen’s diagnostics tools in additional medical testing venues.

“We see much broader applications of this technology as we grow our menu of services, especially in the area of infectious disease testing and we believe there are synergies with several of our strategic areas of focus,” he says in a news release about the purchase.

MultiGen’s technology allows for testing of multiple pathogens in a single application. PCLS believes such technology will be particularly useful in reducing the occurrence of hospital-acquired infections.

PCLS opened new lab in Riverwalk Business Park last summer. The company now employs 250 workers at the site after moving from several facilities in Charlotte. Charlotte Business Journal  Read More

Family Dollar store under construction in Rock Hill near planned Walmart grocery store

Family Dollar is building a new store – its fifth in Rock Hill – on S.C. 5, across from Northwestern High School.

The discount store could open as soon as this summer, Family Dollar officials told The Herald this week. Rock Hill building permits show the company plans to open an 8,300-square-foot space, costing about $815,000.

Family Dollar’s site on S.C. 5 is near the area where Walmart intends to build one of its three planned Neighborhood Market stores – smaller spaces that focus on groceries – in the Rock Hill area.

Walmart wants to open a 42,000-square-foot market along with a gas station and drive-thru pharmacy. The company yet to begin a formal application process with the city to build.

City officials say Family Dollar’s plans will not need Planning Commission or City Council approvals because of the store’s smaller size and the fact that its site is already designated as commercial property.

Once open, the new Family Dollar will hire up to 10 people, said Cliff Cermak, spokesman for the company.

Founded in 1959 in Charlotte, Family Dollar opened its first store in South Carolina two years later. Family Dollar’s Lancaster County store, which opened in October, was No. 8,000 for the discounter.

“South Carolina has been a great state for us,” Cermak said.

Family Dollar did not disclose on Wednesday its anticipated investment in its newest Rock Hill store.

But, the new location will have “the latest and greatest that Family Dollar has to offer,” Cermak said.

The company recently expanded its merchandise to include nearly 350 new food items – something that could make the S.C. 5 Family Dollar a direct competitor for Walmart’s Neighborhood Market. The location also will be about 3 miles from a recently opened Dollar General located at the S.C. 5 (West Main Street) and Cherry Road.

Family Dollar’s goal, Cermak said, is to be a “one-stop shop” for its customers. Unlike some larger retailers, he said, the company has a smaller store format and can usually locate closer to the places where its customers work and live.

The new Family Dollar will be located directly across from Northwestern High School, between two traffic signals at Rawlinson Road and Meadowlark Drive. Walmart officials have previously said that its Neighborhood Market would take over the site of an existing shopping center called Rawlinson Road Plaza.

A Burger King restaurant there is expected to remain.

The development of the two stores are independent of one another, Rock Hill officials said.

The Herald

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Piedmont Medical Center says it has been awarded Fort Mill hospital

Piedmont Medical Center says it has been awarded Fort Mill hospital

FORT MILL — Piedmont Medical Center has been chosen by an administrative law judge to build a Fort Mill hospital.

In a ruling released Tuesday, judge Phillip Lenski overturned a decision by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to award a certificate of need to Carolinas HealthCare of Charlotte, parent company of Carolinas Medical Center. Piedmont plans to build a 100-bed at the corner of S.C. 160 W and U.S. 21.

The hospital could be opened by 2018, said Bill Masterton, Piedmont's chief executive officer.

“We celebrate today with the community of Fort Mill as they are one step closer to getting the high-quality hospital that they have deserved for years,” Masterton said in a prepared statement. “Fort Mill Medical Center will deliver trusted health care services in the heart of town as we extend the quality programs that residents have come to expect from Piedmont Medical Center.”

Chris Hummer, president of CMC-Pineville, said CMC officials are "disappointed" with the decision.

"We are trying to understand the judge's decision and determine our next step," Hummer said.

He said no decision has been made about whether to appeal. He doesn't know when a decision would be made.

"We are committed to serving York County residents. That doesn't change. We have done that for a long time and will be there for a long time," he said.

Once built, Fort Mill Medical Center will offer patients an array of specialized services, including a 24-hour emergency room, comprehensive women’s health services, advanced cardiac services and an intensive care unit. The new hospital is slated to create approximately 400 jobs for area residents and generate substantial tax revenue for the community, including an estimated $2.8 million to the Fort Mill School District, more than $500,000 to the Town of Fort Mill and more than $700,000 to the county on an annual basis.

The hospital will serve as a sister facility to Piedmont Medical Center, and Masterton will serve as its CEO.

Phillip Lenski is the latest in a more than decade-long effort to bring a new hospital to an expanding population in the Fort Mill area.

In 2006, the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control approved a certificate of need for Piedmont. Carolinas HealthCare and Presbyterian, the other applicants, challenged. Three years later, an administrative court judge ruled that DHEC misinterpreted the state’s health plan in awarding the certificate to Piedmont.

In September 2011, DHEC ruled that Carolinas HealthCare's proposal best complied the certificate of need certificate in the states health plan.

Piedmont and Presbyterian appealed that decision to the S.C. Administrative Law Court. Just before the appeal was heard, Presbyterian withdrew from the process.

Over four weeks in April and May, Lenski heard attorneys debated whether a CMC-Fort Mill hospital would affect Piedmont.

Attorneys for Piedmont argued a CMC-Fort Mill hospital would financially harm PMC and York County physicians. Adverse economic impact is one of the factors DHEC can consider in reviewing the certificate of need applications.

Witnesses for Piedmont testified that the Rock Hill hospital would see a drop of about 3,100 cases – or $12.5 million in revenue – if Carolinas HealthCare is awarded the Fort Mill hospital.

Piedmont attorneys said losing patients to Carolinas HealthCare over the years has changed the mix of payers, with Piedmont seeing an increase in the number of people insured by Medicare, Medicaid or having no insurance. If that trend of losing patients and revenue to CMC continues, Piedmont will see a "slow death," said former CEO Charlie Miller.

He testified the shift in patients may mean Piedmont will become "the hospital that it was in the 1980s."

Carolinas HealthCare attorneys said a CMC-Fort Mill hospital would not economically harm PMC because northern York County residents are already getting their health care from Carolinas Medical Center. A CMC-Fort Mill hospital would allow them to get health care closer to home, Carolinas Healthcare attorneys said. CMC officials estimated that they are already serving more than 50 percent of the patients in the Fort Mill-Tega Cay area. It is an area with a high percentage of insurance-carrying patients.

Quality of health care was also debated.

Doctors testifying for Piedmont said the loss of patients could affect their medical skills because of their need to have a certain number of cases to maintain their proficiency, especially in the more complicated specialties.

During DHEC’s review of applications, Piedmont officials said a continued loss of patients and revenues to Carolinas HealthCare hospitals in Pineville, N.C., and/or Fort Mill could force PMC to close some operations and make cuts in its emergency department.

PMC, however, is expanding it emergency department. The emergency department is the largest source of hospital admissions. The emergency department expansion is part of Piedmont’s strategy to compete with Carolinas HealthCare in York County. Piedmont has recruited more physicians, which would likely increase the number of referrals to PMC. The third part of PMC’s strategy was reversing the decision on who gets to build the Fort Mill hospital.

Also to be consider is Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto last June of $1.7 million in DHEC funding for the certificate of need program. Haley said the program restricts access to health care, drives down quality and drives up cost.

DHEC director Catherine Templeton has suspended the certificate program for a year, saying the practical effect of the suspension is that health care operators can expand or build facilities without a certificate of need. The law, however, still requires a certificate of need for projects costing more than $600,000.

The legality of DHEC's decision is being considered by the S.C. Supreme Court this week.

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BMW announces $1 billion expansion creating 800 new jobs

BMW announces $1 billion expansion creating 800 new jobs

COLUMBIA, S.C. - BMW announced today that the company will expand its plant in Spartanburg County with a $1 billion investment, which is expected to create 800 new jobs. The expansion includes the addition of a fifth vehicle platform at the plant - the X7 - and it will increase production capacity from 350,000 units to 450,000 units annually, making the Spartanburg facility the highest-capacity plant in the BMW global system by the end of 2016.

 

Dr. Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW AG, and other BMW executives joined with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Governor Nikki Haley in making the announcement in Greer. Additionally, BMW revealed for the first time the new X4, the latest vehicle model produced in Spartanburg. The addition of the X4 was announced as part of a $900 million expansion in January 2012.

 

Since the original decision to build BMW's only U.S. plant in South Carolina in 1992, BMW's investment in South Carolina has totaled $6.3 billion. Today's announcement represents its largest, single investment to date in its South Carolina presence and the fifth major expansion of the plant.

 

Since 1994, the plant has produced seven different BMW models and their variants (318i, Z3, Z4, X5, X6, X3 and X4). Employment has grown significantly from 500 in 1994 to an expected 8,000 by the end of this year. This year marks the 20th anniversary of BMW's start of production in South Carolina in 1994.

 

BMW's Spartanburg facility produced 297,326 vehicles in 2013 for 140 global markets. More than 70 percent of the vehicles produced (210,670 units) were exported, with the automaker being the Port of Charleston's top user by cargo value as well as a major customer of the new South Carolina Inland Port in Greer.

 

South Carolina's automotive industry has quadrupled in the past two decades, according to South Carolina Department of Commerce data. The sector employs approximately 46,700 South Carolinians at more than 250 firms. Automotive-related companies are presently in 38 of the state's 46 counties.

 

QUOTES

 

"Governor Haley, the government of South Carolina welcomed us here 20 years ago. Today, I want to thank you for your continued efforts in promoting this partnership as many former governors before you have done.  Your personal commitment to the plant has truly been appreciated." - Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG

"BMW's decision to locate in South Carolina was a game-changer 20 years ago, and today's commitment of another $1 billion investment and 800 jobs in Spartanburg County is another game-changing moment. This is a real testament to our strong business environment and skilled workforce and we couldn't be more excited to see BMW continuing to grow and invest in our state for many years to come."  -Gov. Nikki Haley

"BMW's presence in South Carolina over the past two decades has driven the dramatic growth of our automotive sector, which now includes 250 companies in 38 out of the state's 46 counties. It is great to see BMW's ongoing success in our state as they become the largest plant in BMW's global system." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt

 

"The SC Ports Authority has a strong history with BMW, and their operations are a tremendous asset to our port. They are the largest user of our premier roll-on/roll-off facility at Columbus Street, and their cargo commitment was a significant factor in our decision to open the Inland Port last year. We proudly call them our partner and will continue to support their growing import-export needs through our Charleston and Greer facilities." -Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority

 

"Spartanburg County has a diverse family of domestic and international companies that continue to expand. BMW continues to deliver a superb automobile made by associates that are excited to go to work every day. We are blessed to have BMW and their suppliers located in Spartanburg. I don't want to appear greedy, but nothing would please me more than to have all BMWs produced in Spartanburg." -Jeff Horton, Chairman of Spartanburg County Council

 

FIVE FAST FACTS

 

 

  • The automaker's $1 billion investment is expected to create 800 new jobs.
  • This will be BMW's fifth major expansion of the Spartanburg facility since 1992.
  • The expansion adds a fifth vehicle platform - the X7 - to a facility already producing the X3, X4, X5 and X6 models.

  • BMW's total investment in the state to date is already $6.3 billion.
  • South Carolina's automotive sector has quadrupled in the past two decades and currently has a presence in 38 of the state's 46 counties. 

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