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Economic Development Prospects Dominated Lancaster Landscape

January 3, 2019
Stripped of its signage, Atlantic Union College closed in 2018. A Chinese company has indicated it would like to use a portion of the campus to open a new prep school. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/FILE PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Whether residents liked it or not, the possibility of economic development cast a big shadow over Lancaster in 2018.

AND THEY’RE OFF!

Perhaps the biggest and most unexpected of all the projects to be announced last year was the potential thoroughbred horse-racing track that a Canadian company wants to build off McGovern Boulevard.

The currently undeveloped land is being eyed by the Stronach Group as the site of a 100-acre complex that would include a track capable of entertaining as many as 2,500 spectators and a mixed-use area that could host retail, commercial, industrial, and residential units.

The company has since bought the land, but little movement on the project has taken place as the state has yet to amend its regulations for gambling on horse racing.

Though the proposed track has drawn its share of supporters, many town residents who attended early public hearings expressed concerns over how it would impact traffic flow and the water supply of surrounding neighborhoods.

ANYWHERE BUT HERE

Arguably the most publicly opposed project to set it sights on Lancaster soil in 2018 was the Goodbridge Brook Estates housing development.

Initially announced as containing 120 apartments units and 80 units of duplex housing -- a quarter of which is low-income housing -- the development quickly had an organized group of detractors.

Neighboring residents first questioned how the influx of people would overtax local schools and infrastructure, but criticisms soon began targeting Goodbridge’s developers and the town officials tasked with overseeing the project. The projected number of housing units continued to change over a series of ZBA meetings and attending residents often grew frustrated when they were unable to address board members during meetings.

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

After almost 140 years of operation, Atlantic Union College announced that it would be closing in February due to its loss of accreditation and the financial backing of several Seventh-day Adventist organizations.

The college had closed in 2011 before reopening on a limited basis in 2015, however the school was unable to support itself and saw its student population dwindle to just 55 at the time of the announcement.

The campus may soon find new life as the home of an international preparatory school run by the Chinese company Eaglebridge Educational Holdings.

An early proposal from the company outlined a 50-year lease of parts of the campus for the purpose of building a tuition-funded boarding school.

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