The Marvell plan is back, new and improved, with its sights set on the Rock Hill shoreline of the Catawba River.
Fiorenza Properties has almost 42 acres at the end of Riverchase Boulevard up for a proposed zoning change. The city planning commission voted in favor of the zoning change on Sept. 1. Now it goes to city council.
City council has a workshop planned for Sept. 10. Its next regular meeting follows on Sept. 14.
It’s a similar process to what happened a year ago, though the developer is seeking a different outcome.
“I’m hoping at this point the traffic concerns have been addressed,” said Adam Fiorenza with Fiorenza Properties.
Last summer Marvell proposed a mix of 200 apartments, 70 patio homes and 40 single-family homes on riverfront land where I-77 crosses the Catawba River. It was billed as a new, modern gateway into the city. Rock Hill City Council voted the plan down because of the high traffic volume on nearby Celanese Road.
“We don’t have the road improvements in place to know if they’re working or not,” Councilman Kevin Sutton said in making the August 2019 decision.
Pennies for Progress, the cent sales tax approved every seven years by York County voters since 1997, was financing ongoing work to improve traffic flow at Riverchase Boulevard and Riverview Road.
Both roads feed into Celanese Road.
Celanese at I-77 annually has been one of the top traffic congestion spots in York and Lancaster counties, according to the Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study. That interchange since was part of a York County interstate improvement application that will receive almost $75 million.
Traffic issues were so bad at Riverchase and Riverview, there was consideration among road planners of removing a traffic signal there to avoid lengthy red light delays.
Now the work at Riverchase and Riverview is done. So was a new traffic study. City planner Dennis Fields said the traffic study was completed prior to COVID-19, when for a time traffic all but shut down along with area businesses to slow coronavirus spread.
Fields, who presented an updated plan from Fiorenza to the planning commission, said the stall last year was all about roads for city council.
“Their whole conversation was on the traffic situation,” Fields said.
The new plan shows up to 250 apartments and 90 homes. The apartments would be nearest the river. Residences would have a farmhouse theme.
“It would also be a continuation of the multi-use path that’s along the Catawba River, that would lead eventually over to the Riverwalk river district and continue upriver as properties develop further north,” Fields said.
The number of residences isn’t drastically different. There have been tweaks. In recent months city officials have discussed the need for more affordable housing. The new plan would devote 5-10% of its apartments to affordable housing.
Fields said until Marvell, there wasn’t any firm plan in place.
“The site is vacant,” Fields said. “We haven’t had any interest over the last 30 years.”
There are promising signs for the Marvell plan if the traffic figures suit city council. About the same time last year that council voted down the plan at I-77 and the Catawba, the same body approved the similar Porter’s Landing project at Cherry Road and the Catawba River.
Even during the decision not to approve the Marvell plan, Mayor John Gettys recognized value in development of the riverfront.
“This is the kind of plan we need in Rock Hill, that we haven’t seen in the past,” Gettys said last summer. “We have a real opportunity to do some really neat things in the community.”