Northwest Triangle project takes step forward

The Northwest Triangle was an idea that surfaced in York near the beginning
of 2003.

The Northwest Triangle was an idea that surfaced in York near the beginning
of 2003. The roughly $50 million mixed-use project is moving forward after clearing some important
hurdles this month.

The York Redevelopment Authority filed documents in 2006 to
acquire by eminent domain the nearly 3-acre property that Ohio Blenders Inc. sits on within the city. The site is slated to be part of the project.

The Ohio-based firm contested the action, and the case has
weaved through a number of courts. This month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed
the appeal and decided it would not hear the case, said Don Hoyt, solicitor for
the authority and an attorney at York-based Blakey Yost Bupp & Rausch. As a
result, the original ruling by the York County Court of Common Pleas, which
favored the authority, has been upheld, he said.

“This is a big step forward for us,” said Kevin Schreiber, York’s acting economic
development director and acting redevelopment authority coordinator.  “It moves the process back to the local level
to determine the value of the land.”

The authority is in charge of acquiring the land for the
project and preparing it for development, Schreiber said. Officials have worked
around the Ohio Blenders situation to acquire the rest of the land, demolish
the sites and now are removing debris and fully remediating the area, he said.

Remediation work took place last year. About $217,000 worth
of soil remediation began this year and should be complete within a month.

Schreiber said he hopes to begin about $1.3 million in sewer
improvements and roughly $1.2 million worth of road improvements this year.
This part of the project can begin before the Ohio Blenders site is acquired,
but that area also will be demolished and remediated, he said.

“We hope this will continue to spur additional economic
development and have an economic ripple effect in downtown York,” Schreiber said. “Despite the recession
and despite the economy, the city of York
has a lot of investment occurring and a lot of revitalizing under way.”

The Northwest Triangle will become a mix of about 84,000
square feet of retail and commercial space and between 85 and 137 townhouses
and condominiums. York Township-based Kinsley Construction is handling the
commercial development side of the project, which involves the renovation of
three historic structures, said Barbara Sardella, general counsel for Kinsley.

The restoration of one of the structures – the Smyser Royer
Building – is complete,
and the building is ready for a commercial-office tenant, she said. Within five
years, the commercial portion of the project is expected to be complete,
Sardella said.

“The economy has slowed the time line somewhat; however, the
acquisition of the Ohio Blenders property is an important step in moving the
progress of the project forward,” Sardella said.

The Ohio Blenders site will be part of the residential side
of the project that Baltimore-based Enterprise Homes is handling. When the
entire project is complete, it will greatly improve the city through creating
jobs, removing urban blight, broadening the tax base and increasing investor
confidence, she said.

The project was brand new when Steve Chronister became a York County
commissioner. He now is in his sixth year in office. He said he supports the
project because it will tie together other downtown development projects and
should boost the local economy.

“It’s a project that has finally gotten off the ground, and
I think it’s a good use of the property,” he said. “Right now, we need as much
economic stimulus as we can get. The timing, I think, is just remarkable.”

The project is strategically important to the revitalization
of downtown York,
said Linda Davidson, board member of Downtown Inc and board chairman of the
York County Economic Development Corp. Davidson also is the treasurer of C.S.
Davidson Inc.

The redevelopment area sits between Sovereign Bank Stadium
and the Susquehanna
Commerce Center
– recently completed projects that cost more than $30 million each.

“There is a lot of interest in that North George Street area, which leads up
to the triangle, and it’s just a logical next place that needs to be fixed up,”
Davidson said. “It’s a great idea – it’s just too bad it’s been stumbling along
for such a long time. It’s a great concept if they can actually get a lot of
momentum now.”

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