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RAAD INCLUDED IN NEW EDITION OF BEST LAWYERS

RAAD INCLUDED IN NEW EDITION OF BEST LAWYERS

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Joseph L. Raad, senior counsel with Morton & Gettys, is included in the 2016 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. 

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Morton and Gettys Welcomes Daniel J. Ballou

Morton and Gettys Welcomes Daniel J. Ballou

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Daniel J. Ballou, a veteran litigator with more than 20 years’ experience in South Carolina courts, has joined Morton & Gettys as senior counsel.

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Streetcar best way to link Winthrop and Downtown

A streetcar line between Winthrop University and downtown Rock Hill is essential to developing the Knowledge Park, says developer Sora-Phelps.

A streetcar line means higher land values, increased taxes and the chance for federal funds for the project, said Tim Elliott of Sora Development.

Without a linkage between the university and downtown, Knowledge Park will be another industrial park with possibly some apartments, not the 1.3 million square feet of retail, restaurant, office and residential space Sora-Phelps unveiled about two years ago, Elliott said.

Elliott’s comments came as the Knowledge Park Leadership Group, local business leaders who are advocating for the project, met Wednesday to discuss what will be its primary focus for the remainder of the year – what is the best transportation option for the park. The group hopes to make a recommendation to the Rock Hill City Council by the end of the year.

The Knowledge Park Leadership Group, city staff and Sora-Phelps – a partnership between Sora Development of Towson, Md., and Phelps Development of Greeley, Colo. – agree that the 23-acre Bleachery site must be connected to Winthrop University and downtown. Without the connection it is an isolated site, they say.

Until the leadership group’s March meeting a streetcar line was the proposed linkage. At that meeting the leadership group decided to study all alternatives, including a streetcar, electric buses or a people mover.

Wednesday’s meeting was to set the criteria for evaluating the transportation alternatives. Much of the focus, though, was on the benefits of a permanent rail line and the need for Winthrop University to embrace the project.

Stephen Turner, the city’s director of economic development, said the purpose of the transportation linkage between the university and downtown is to spur development of the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co. site, also known as the Bleachery.

“This is not meant to meet transit needs; it’s not about moving people,” Turner said.

Turner said the linkage would have to stand on its own financially and show that it enhances the city’s economic development efforts. Property owners benefiting from the linkage would contribute to its operations through a special tax district.

Initial construction funds would be generated, in part, from tax incremental financing, or TIF, dollars. By using a TIF, increased tax revenue generated by development could be used to fund more public improvements at the site.

The City Council wants to extend the time frame for the existing special tax district that includes the Bleachery site. The York County Council and the Rock Hill school board must approve the extension because the county and school district each receives tax revenue from the properties. The school board has approved the extension. The County Council is negotiating with the city on the extension. A first reading of the extension is on the agenda for Monday’s County Council meeting.

Streetcar benefits

James Brown, of HDR of Charlotte, said that a streetcar line can amplify, focus and accelerate development, but it doesn’t create initial economic opportunities.

Several years ago, HDR did a streetcar feasibility study for the city. It is updating that study with more specific information on what’s planned for the Bleachery site, as well as information on cities which have tried a streetcar line as an economic development tool.

Lee Gardner, CEO and president of Family Trust Federal Credit Union, said the long-term vision for the streetcar should include a system that links the city’s major destinations such as Piedmont Medical Center, York Technical College, Clinton College and retail centers stretching from Newport to the Interstate 77 corridor.

John Barnes Jr. of Comporium, and David Stringer of the Insignia Group of Rock Hill, said the city could consider starting with a electric bus to link Winthrop and downtown, to gauge interest in the idea.

Having Winthrop University as a major player in transportation and Knowledge Park development was also discussed. Turner said the university needs to understand how the streetcar would benefit it, how it could affect student enrollment, or create more revenue opportunities.

Turner said having Winthrop participate in a “meaningful way” in the operation of a transportation system is essential.

Kathy Bigham, chairwoman of the Winthrop Board of Trustees, said the board’s understanding of Knowledge Park is on the agenda for Friday’s board retreat. Longer term, Bigham said that faculty, staff and students will play a “big role” in determining the university’s role in Knowledge Park.

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Public to see plans for Rock Hill Woolworth Walkway

Public to see plans for Rock Hill Woolworth Walkway

ROCK HILL — Artists designing the Woolworth Walkway will present their design concepts at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday at the courtroom of the Gettys Center, 201 E. Main St., Rock Hill. The public is invited to review the designs and provide comments. The walkway will connect an existing city-owned parking lot to a planned four-story, 37-unit apartment building fronting Main Street. Construction on the downtown apartments will begin later this year and is projected to finish in the first half of 2016.

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Knowledge Park and TI Center Make News

The Knowledge Park Innovation Center and Technology Incubator are mentioned in the most recent version of SC Commerce magazine. Click on the link below to see the article beginning on page 41.

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