York County commissioners on Wednesday took a step toward offering a tax incentive for redevelopment at the West Manchester Mall.
Tony Ruggeri, an owner of the property, said developers plan to spend about $47 million on the project and hope some new stores will move to the area in 2014.
He said the state of the mall has been deteriorating over time. He said more than half the spaces are vacant.
“And it’s moving in the wrong direction,” Ruggeri said. “So part of the redevelopment is to bring that energy back and create a … dynamic center on the west side for retail.”
Ruggeri said they essentially want to turn the mall inside out, so that all stores will be directly accessible from outside.
Part of the plan includes tearing off part of the mall to create an outside plaza area. He wants to have restaurants and stores, such as for women’s fashion, in that plaza.
Ruggeri envisions that plaza will be a gathering area. It could host a Christmas tree before that holiday, an art show in the summer, music and other activities, he said.
The current front of the mall facing Route 30 would be turned into an area for larger, national box stores.
He said the current anchor tenants, such as Kohl’s, would stay as part of the project. Smaller tenants could be relocated. The fundamental footprint will stay the same, Ruggeri said.
He said there’s a market for more restaurants in York County.
Ruggeri said the mall currently has problems with access. They want to create a new entry off of Carlisle Road. They also to plan to change the inner loop road for the property, to increase available parking space and improve traffic flow.
Commissioners on Wednesday approved appointing Darrell W. Auterson to the tax increment financing district planning committee.
Auterson, president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance, said the goal is to have the county, school district and township approve the district by end of January. The township has already approved someone to the committee.
Auterson said tax increment financing is “a highly effective, economic development and redevelopment tool that has been used somewhat sparingly in York County.”
He pointed to the use of it for Johnson Controls in Hopewell Township as a success.
County commissioners praised the project.
“I think this is an exciting area,” said Commissioner Doug Hoke.
So what is tax increment financing district?
Last December, news became public that Johnson Controls – formerly York International – was looking to move its operations, along with 440 workers, to Maryland, or build on another site in Hopewell Township.
School, township and county officials approved a tax increment financing (TIF) district to incentivize the Fortune 500 company to remain local.
The TIF allows Johnson Controls to invest property taxes it would have paid to fund infrastructure surrounding its new project.
The plan allows Johnson Controls to pay its property taxes to a third-party holder of a $12 million bond, which the company can leverage to build things like roads and sewer lines, which benefit and encourage future development of the property.
The tax incentive for the mall could last up to 20 years. Ruggeri and the other developers own about 95 acres, while Macy’s owns its own building and acreage, Ruggeri said.
More highlights from the meeting, after the jump: