Rock Hill Mayor Robert Salamone at a Town Hall forum on Oct. 16 unveiled plans for a new retail center and $5.2 million government center
"Status Quo is no longer an acceptable term in Rock Hill," said Rock Hill Mayor Robert Salamone. "Residents have been waiting too long for a new direction for the city."
Salamone said a new vision for the city will reflect the desires of its citizens. He presented the results of citizen surveys on various issues. For example, regarding development, 80 percent of survey respondents said they would favor a mixed-use development, whereas only 46 percent said they would favor a strictly commercial development and just 38 percent said they would favor a strictly residential development.
Regarding issues about Manchester Road, 75 percent of respondents said they would like to see continuous sidewalks along Manchester Road, whereas just 54 percent said they would favor increasing the depth of commercial zones along Manchester. In addition, 73 percent said they would prefer trees as a buffer.
Other survey results included the top ten businesses residents would like to see and not see in Rock Hill. Topping the list of the most desired type of businesses were bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, sidewalk cafes, garden and florist shops, greeting card and book shops. The most undesired type of businesses were tattoos and piercing, big box discount-type stores, pawn shops and car dealerships.
Survey results also showed that desirable services for the city included fountains, playgrounds, recreation facilities, movie theaters, whereas residents said they would not like to see nightclubs in Rock Hill.
Salamone also presented aspects of the city's comprehensive plan, which includes combining resources of the economic development commission, the planning and zoning commission and the board of aldermen, as well as hiring a city planner and obtaining citizen involvement.
A highlight of the forum was Salamone's unveiling of new economic development initiatives. He announced that Rock Hill is purchasing for $2.2 million the Quebecor Sayers property, located at 9600 Manchester Road, next to City Hall. Salamone said plans call for building a new 5.5-acre retail development to replace Sayers and the current City Hall location.
"When Sayers announced its move around June, our eyes lit up," Salamone said. "We thought this is the time to make a move."
The new City Hall will become a part of a new city center that will be comprised of a 45,000 square-foot facility that will include a 14,000-square-foot gymnasium, a 2,400-square-foot multi-purpose room, a 1,500-square-foot work out area, locker and shower rooms and an 1,800-square-foot assembly room.
"It literally will be a community center for Rock Hill," Salamone said. "Citizens deserve this. Kids need a place to call their own. To build a community, you need a centerpiece. The Fall Festival is great, but it's only once a year. This will be 365 days a year where people can come and enjoy Rock Hill."
Salamone said projected costs total about $7.4 million, which includes $2.2 million for the Sayers property purchase plus about $5.2 million in projected costs for the new city center. He said income will be derived from sales tax, property tax and lease rental income from both projects.
"The city center project, combined with the retail center, should pay for itself," Salamone said. "Our goal is to make both entities balance in terms of cost and revenue. Overall, we are not focusing on dollars generated, but rather on amenities and services that will bring our community together."
Salamone said the city is considering three locations for the new city center, including the vacant Gerber site on McKnight Road, or a portion of the Sayers site. He said the city plans to close on the Sayers property by Dec. 15, and plans to start on the city center and retail project by the end of March.