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Rock Hill Board OKs Purchase Of Site For City Center

Financing is in place to purchase former Gerber & Sayers properties

September 12, 2003
All systems are go for the new Rock Hill City Center after the Rock Hill Board of Aldermen Tuesday approved the ordinance and signed the contract for the purchase of the Gerber site at 2630 S. McKnight Road for $1.6 million. Cost to build the city center is estimated at $13 million.

Last week, Rock Hill residents gathered for a town meeting at Steger Sixth Grade Center to hear Mayor Robert Salamone give an update on proposed city projects -- seen by some to be rather ambitious.

Projects included in the update were the City Center on McKnight Road, the Berry Road/Manchester Road project, and developmental proposals for the northwest and southwest corners of Manchester and McKnight roads.

Salamone said the financing through Royal Banks of Missouri for $5.1 million was in place for the first phase of the projects.

"We will have $1.6 million for the purchase of Gerber, $2.4 million for purchase and demolition of Sayers, and $600,000 for reimbursement to the city for expenditures on all projects," the mayor explained. "The balance is for remaining soft costs such as architectural, mechanical, and structural for the new city center complex."

The city is still looking for financing for the second phase of the projects for the development of the northwest and southwest corners of Manchester and McKnight roads.

Regarding the city center, Salamone said that the city had "adjusted our footprint on the site to provide for enough square footage to retain all amenities as planned."

These include a 5,000-square-foot indoor pool, 5,000 square-foot library, 5,000 square-foot workout facility, full gymnasium, 5,000-square-foot banquet facility which can be divided into four meeting rooms.

"By redoing this adjustment, we saved the city $2.7 million which was the estimate for moving McKnight west of its present position. Current estimates for the city complex, without having firm construction bids in place -- which will be due in January-- are coming up at $13 million," the mayor said.

Other Redevelopment Projects

Regarding Quebecor/Sayer property adjacent to City Hall, Salamone said the city was expected to close on the purchase Sept. 11. The Quebecor and City Hall property will be part of a 5.5-acre site that the city will own and sell to a developer. This property will then become part of a 13-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Manchester and McKnight roads.

The mayor said he expects the Quebecor building to be demolished within a few months.

Salamone added that he had met with six developers regarding Manchester/Berry roads development and the northwest and southwest corners of Manchester and McKnight roads.

"They each indicated they will have site concepts submitted within four to six weeks," Salamone said.

Previously, the city had sent out 70 requests for proposals on these areas and had received no takers.

"I immediately got on the phone with 10 independent developers and asked them point blank why they didn't respond," Salamone said. "They said it was not due to lack of interest. It was due to differences in their opinions as to how these projects should be composed."

Salamone contacted Pace Properties, The Desco Group, Don C. Musick Construction Co., G.J. Grewe, Inc., Blackstone Developers, and Duke Realty Corp. He said he has also made "very preliminary contact" with Capital Land Company. All are St. Louis companies.

Long-time resident Don Hanson, who has been in the "buyout" area for the last 10 years, differs with the mayor's vision.

"They want to turn us into a boutique-oriented, bedroom type of community," Hanson said. "It is not going to work. We tried to tell them that. There's not enough money in those outlets to give the city what it needs."

"They keep fighting this idea of a box store, saying they don't want a box store," Hanson said. "Now there's a lot of antagonistic views towards the city and mayor because we're seeing a situation where a certain number of homes would be designated for the retail portion which would get a larger chunk of money, than those of us who us are designated as residential would get."

He added, "They have made the statement themselves that within three years they could be bankrupt, and yet they want these small retail businesses that will not generate the sales tax they need," he added.

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