Some 650 housing units, commercial space slated for Rock Hill’s south side

ROCK HILL — A massive-scale development could bring nearly 650 housing units to the south side of Rock Hill, a traditionally underprivileged, majority-Black area that has faced the mounting pressures of gentrification.

The 127-acre development by York Capital LLC and Albright Corners LLC proposes to build up to 400 multi-family apartments, 214 townhomes, 35 single-family detached houses and 150,000-square-feet of commercial space. It will also feature a fitness facility, a pool and greenspace.

The project, Albright Commons, would be broken up across two plots of land — an eastern section along Albright Road and a western section along Mt. Holly Road.

City Council will consider the project at its Sept. 25 meeting, the first of two required votes, after the city’s Planning Commission recommended approval in a 5-1 decision.

It marks one of the largest developments in recent memory on the south side, an area that suffered decades of public and private disinvestment until the recent influx of new money.

“As we’ve seen all this growth and development down the Celanese corridor, Cherry Road, downtown, the only areas of town that we really haven’t seen a ton of development and growth is on the south side,” said Lisa Brown, Economic and Urban Development Director for Rock Hill.

The site of the future homes currently sits vacant.

At a Sept. 5 planning commission meeting, Taylor Seeloff, who represented York Capital LLC, said the company saw a chance to fill a need in the community.

“This area is a bit of a food desert, bit of a opportunity area for some homes, population growth, retail growth, commercial growth, things like that,” Seeloff said. “So we tried to lay out this plan to meet those needs.”

Specifically, Brown hopes the addition of more homes will attract a grocery store to the area.

The city’s Clinton ConNEXTion plan, a two-year-old initiative focused on investing in the south side, identified a grocery store as one of its eight core projects based off community input.

There isn’t a supermarket within a one-mile radius of the proposed development, making it harder for people in the community who might not have the time, money or transportation to access affordable and healthy food.

“Having a grocery store in around here, that changes everything,” Brown said, “especially for these historical neighborhoods. They’re using Dollar General to get all of their food. That’s not healthy. It’s not giving them a lot of options.”

Candace Thompson is a real estate agent who grew up in Rock Hill and owns property near the proposed development. 

Although she expressed concern with the number of deviations that the planning commission permitted, she supports the project, arguing that the south side needs a wider variety housing options.

“We do not have enough housing on the ground to service the people who want to live here in Rock Hill, South Carolina,” she said.

Albright Commons isn’t the only new housing development on the south side.

In August, City Council approved 156 affordable housing apartments along Heckle Boulevard for people who make 60 percent of the area’s median income. It came just a year after 216 affordable apartment units were slated for the former Edgewood Elementary School.

At the meeting, Seeloff said the company does not currently plan to designate units for affordable housing, but added it’s “not off the table.” Rock Hill provides a tax incentive to developers who reserve 5 or 10 percent of units for people who make less than the area median income.

The growth, however, could threaten to increase nearby property values and push longtime neighbors out of their homes — a worry of some on the south side as developments creep their direction.

As more businesses and houses arrive, Brown expressed the importance of helping residents stay in their homes if they want and providing higher-paying jobs in the community.

“The challenge of growth and development is whoever was there before, what is the kind of impact that that has on them?” Brown said.

Rock Hill recently established the south side tax-increment financing district that allows the city to use taxes generated within the designated area to rehabilitate potentially blighted properties.

It plans to invest over $200 million across 30 years into the area through public infrastructure improvements. Most recently, the city announced renovations to the longtime community staple McGirt Auditorium. 

Part of that money will go toward water and sewer that will extend to recently annexed 1,300 acres of land in south Rock Hill along the Interstate 77 corridor, Mayor John Gettys previously told The Post and Courier.

Brown hopes to attract advanced manufacturing businesses on the annexed land that could increase wages and job opportunities for nearby residents.

“(Rock Hill has) a really unique opportunity, because with Charlotte, there’s not tons of large tracts of land on an interstate,” Brown said. “We have really valuable land that we can help work with the private sector to develop in a way that has those higher paying jobs.”

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