A planned $70 million development on the banks of the Catawba River got the go-ahead from the Rock Hill City Council on Monday.
The council voted to annex the 32 acres of the future Riverside on the Catawba into the city, then approved a planned development zoning for the property. The vote paves the way for construction to start on a mix of retail shops and apartment buildings on the site.
But city staff members still have concerns about the new development that needed be addressed before the council approves a “master plan” for the site on either side of Cherry Road just south of the U.S. 21 bridge. Council members were told those issues mainly involve parking and traffic concerns as well as future access to the river.
Current plans would allow for between 1,084 and 1,281 parking spaces, about 20 percent less than the city would usually allow for a development of this size.
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Planners hope fewer spaces will be necessary because residents of the 300 planned apartments and condominiums will double as employees and patrons of the stores and restaurants in a planned 235,000 square feet of commercial space. Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created.
“While staff is comfortable with this in concept, it is unproven in this area of the City, which generally is very automobile-dominant,” said a staff report to the council.
If demand picks up, the developer, Premiere Design Solutions, has the ability to add spaces to an underground parking deck, the company’s president Luis J. Jurado told the council on Monday.
The developer has also agreed to install a traffic signal “when warranted” by the S.C.Department of Transportation and “triggered by buildout of this project, if that occurs prior to the signal being triggered by development in (neighboring) Riverwalk,” according to the staff report. Jurado said he’d prefer a “joint effort” on the traffic signal with the Riverwalk development.
A traffic study prepared by Premiere Design Solutions estimates the worst-case traffic scenario would be an additional 13,000 trips per day. Plans call for a dedicated right-turn lane at the Spratt Street intersection and aligning Riverside Drive and Dunkins Ferry Road into one intersection.
The city also wants to ensure access to the planned extension of the Carolina Thread Trail along the river. Staff is asking for – and Premiere Design Solutions agreed to – a perpetual access easement and daily clean-up and maintenance of the trail, as well as a multi-use trail on the east side of Cherry Road.
At a “neighborhood meeting” on Feb. 11 at Rock Hill City Hall, Jurado told neighbors the trail will continue from Riverwalk under the U.S. 21 bridge for another 1,500 feet, with access to Riverside’s retail shops.
Premiere Design Solutions is also asked to negotiate with the Greens of Rock Hill on a future river access road on Dunkins Ferry Road. Jurado said they have asked the Greens about it, but a planned meeting was canceled.
The staff report also notes that, even after being annexed into the city, the property will remain under a York County citation to clean up the formerly undeveloped, unincorporated site.
“Apparently, it was a large dumping ground for a number of years,” said city planner Leah Youngblood.
The developer had asked whether Rock Hill could “absolve” the issue, but city planners say they have no authority to do so. Instead, Premiere Design Solutions will implement a phased-in clean-up of the property.
Once all the details are approved, construction of the new development is expected to start later this year.