Darlington County Council OKs Hartsville Canal District ordinance

November 6, 2018

DARLINGTON, S.C. – The Darlington County Council gave final approval Monday to an ordinance to establish a new multicounty business park to help fund development of the proposed Canalside or Canal District redevelopment project along the South Fourth Street corridor and neighboring areas in Hartsville.

The 7-0 vote during Monday’s regular council meeting moves the proposed project one step closer to becoming a reality. Council members passed the measure without discussion.

The new Canal District Business Park will be jointly owned and operated by Darlington and Lee counties in the city of Hartsville at the city’s request under a joint multi-county business park agreement between the two counties.

The Hartsville City Council gave final approval to a city ordinance related to the park in October.

Lee County officials also are working on a corresponding ordinance for Lee County, according to Darlington County Administrator Charles Stewart.

The business park will function similarly to an existing multicounty business park in Hartsville that was established several years ago to help encourage the development of businesses such as Walmart and Lowe’s along South Fourth Street.

The city has been working to stimulate commercial redevelopment of a mixed-use commercial and multifamily housing project in a designated area along South Fourth Street and has purchased several properties over the past year in the area to facilitate the redevelopment effort.

A number of privately owned properties also are included in the proposed district. Some 115 properties now make up the proposed district, according to a draft of a master agreement for the proposed park.

Hartsville City Manager Natalie Zeigler said in October a number of the properties are owned by the city. Many others are privately owned, she said.

City officials say the Canal District project could generate as much as $10 million in new capital investment in the proposed project area.

The Byerly Foundation is investing approximately $2 million in the project in the form of a $1.5 million loan to the Hartsville Public Development Corp. for property acquisitions in the area and through a $500,000 grant to the city. The corporation is a nonprofit organization created by the city to assist in the development of public facilities and other projects that benefit the city.

The park arrangement will generate revenue from fees paid at the same level of existing property taxes in the designated park area for a fixed term, Zeigler said. Typically, she said, the fees are for a 20-year term.

Revenue from the fees will be shared by the two counties based on a specific distribution method. For property in Darlington County covered by the park agreement, Darlington County will retain 99 percent of the fees after reductions required by state law with Lee County getting the remaining 1 percent. For property in Lee County covered by the agreement, Lee County will keep 99 percent of the revenue after required reductions, with Darlington County receiving the remaining 1 percent.

After those distributions, the city will receive 70 percent of the residual fee revenue, with the remainder going to taxing entities in Darlington County, except the city, on a pro-rata basis in accordance with respective tax millages.

Infrastructure projects that could be funded in and around the new park include:

>> Engineering, architectural, consulting and other professional services related projects.

>> Parks, greenspace, hardscaping, landscaping and greenway improvements.

>> Improvements such as water, sewer, electric, gas, storm water drainage, railways, sidewalks and roadways.

>> Lighting and public access improvements.

>> Surface parking, garage parking, on-street parking and other parking facilities to serve the park and related areas.

>> Waterway, canal, waterworks features to benefit the park and its development.

>> Recreation improvements.

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