York College is looking to reuse a long-vacant paper-mill campus in the city’s Southwest neighborhood to expand its business incubator at the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship.
The college has applied for a $7 million grant to convert the former Smurfit-Stone containerboard factory at South Penn Street and Kings Mill Road into new spaces that would be called Knowledge Park at York College of Pennsylvania. The grant would come through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, or RACP.
York College acquired the 40-acre site a decade ago with future growth in mind.
“We believe that we have identified that potential future use and are actively exploring it through the submission of a RACP grant,” said Jeff Vermeulen, the college’s assistant vice president for external relations and executive director of the center.
The brief project description with the state said the grant funding, if approved, would help the institution cover construction expenses needed to renovate two factory buildings and an old manor house on the property.
The historic manor house would become an administrative support center for the complex, while the two factory buildings would be renovated for large meeting space, assembly and office areas.
“This new venture would allow us to grow our partnerships with companies, agencies, nonprofits or organizations that will provide programmatic connections to York College through student experiential-learning opportunities and collaboration with our faculty,” Vermeulen said.
The site is across Kings Mill Road from the J.D. Brown Center, which is full with seven businesses in the incubator. Some of the companies there are ready to hatch into new space, Vermeulen added.
That new space could come from redevelopment of the former paper-mill property, which is along the Codorus Creek.
College officials did not say how much the redevelopment might cost or when construction plans might be submitted to the city.
RACP grants, which are used largely by businesses for regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects, requires applicants to kick in an equal share of funding from non-state sources. The state often awards RACP grants in the late summer or early fall after the state budget is completed. Last year, grants trickled out in August and September.
The industrial property and surrounding area is in one of York’s five designated federal opportunity zones, so it could be poised for more investment.
“There is a lot of potential along that corridor,” York Mayor Michael Helfrich said.
York’s five zones have a lot of old manufacturing sites, including several along the Codorus Creek. Helfrich said he is optimistic that many will be revived with the help of the new federal tax incentive.
“We’re hoping we can increase the utilization of those excellent facilities,” he said. “We certainly see this as an opportunity of a lifetime.”