A rezoning request for a proposed 360.5-acre development, including the site where the Charlotte Knights formerly played, is scheduled to be considered by York County planning officials Dec. 14.
“It is one of the bigger (rezoning applications) we have seen in a while,” said Stephen Allen, York County planning services manager. “You don’t see a lot of projects in an urbanized area that are this big.”
After the York County Planning Commission makes a recommendation on the request to the York County Council, the county will hold a public hearing, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 4. The first of three required readings and votes by the council is also scheduled for Jan. 4, with the second and third scheduled for Jan. 19 and Feb. 1, respectively.
The project reflects the area’s growth and could spur more development nearby, Allen said.
The Cato Corp., a Charlotte-based clothing manufacturer, owns the property and Lincoln Harris, a Charlotte-based commercial property developer, manager and brokerage, is the developer and future property manager.
The proposed development would include 4 million square feet of office space; 100,000 square feet of retail space; 300 residential units; and a 150-room hotel. The residential units would be a mixture of apartments and townhomes, said Tracy Dodson, Lincoln Harris vice president of development and brokerage.
Cato selected Lincoln Harris to be its partner in the development earlier this year. The two companies filed the rezoning application Nov. 2 under the name Fort Mill Land Development LLC.
The company is seeking a planned development zoning, which requires the developer to specify exactly what will be built on the property.
Currently, there are four zoning designations on the land: agricultural; business development III, which allows for automotive, sports, entertainment and other uses; urban development, which permits a variety of residential uses and businesses; and planned development.
The documents that Fort Mill Land Development submitted to the county indicated that the footprint for any commercial building in the project wouldn’t exceed 200,000 square feet and the tallest structure would be no taller than 205 feet, unless architectural features on the roof required the building to be taller. The documents did not indicate how many buildings would be constructed.
The developer would be required to submit a site plan after the rezoning process is completed that indicates how many buildings will be constructed and where the commercial, residential and retail buildings would be on the property, Allen said. It would show open space, parking, roads and other features in the development.
Cato originally planned to build a distribution plant on the site when it purchased the land in 2012. Since those plans changed, Cato bought 185 acres south of Rock Hill that could be the distribution center’s site, John Howe, Cato’s CFO, said in an email.
The company is evaluating what it needs and when that center will be needed, he said.
“Although our original intent for the property was development of a new Cato distribution center, we now feel the property has greater potential as a class A mixed-use development,” Howe said. “This development will bring jobs to the area and create a vibrant office and retail development in York County.”
The project has been in the works for a few years, he said.
Dodson said the decision was made in part because of the increasing number of companies relocating their corporate headquarters or regional offices to the area.
She cited LPL Financial LLC building a 450,000-square-foot regional headquarters in Fort Mill as proof that a market for such office space exists.
The health-services provider the Lash Group Inc. will also open a 250,000-square-foot national headquarters in York County. And auto-maker Daimler has offices next to the site, off Interstate 77.
“There are a lot of great things about South Carolina,” Dodson said.
Dodson said the area’s quality of life is one reason that companies want to move to York County.
Howe said the development’s site off a major highway; its proximity to Charlotte Douglas International Airport; and its location near the growing Fort Mill and Rock Hill areas are other draws.
The developer doesn’t have any tenants lined up yet for its project, and it is too early to say how much the project is expected to cost, Dodson said.
“Obviously we are putting the story out there about filing for the rezoning because we want to start marketing the project,” she said.
Earlier this year, the former stadium for the Charlotte Knights was torn down on the property, which is east of Interstate 77 at exit 88, just south of the North Carolina state line.The stadium was the home to Charlotte’s minor-league baseball team from 1990 until the club’s BB&T Ballpark opened on Mint Street in uptown in 2014. The site of the old stadium has acres of parking lots and is marked by a giant baseball replica that is visible from I-77.