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teshadoh

Rock Hill is changing - for the better?

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Truly an open question, I really don't know. Having grown up in Rock Hill I can vouch after past visits there are more opportunities. But considering the city's mild reputation as having a progressive approach regarding planning - is it really paying off? Just consider a handful of these articles:

The Harris Teeter that has been a staple for the town center of Rock Hill is leaving. A store that I've been very intimate with, it was the first 'modern' grocery store I was aware of, having been open since the 60's. But with it's closing it leaves RH with no grocery stores near the town center, as the other store I recall closed in the early 80's in downtown.

http://www.heraldonline.com/109/story/8177.html

The Rock Hill Mall is obviously not a symbol of urbanism, but it's coming demolition & replacement with a mere Bi-Lo shopping center indicates the widespread pattern of suburban waste. The decline of Cherry Road in particular is disturbing, for a city as small as Rock Hill - to have a strip as vibrant as it was in the 80's to be declining as it has since the construction of a 'replacement strip' on Dave Lyle Blvd., I have to wonder - what is the perogative here? How has the city's planning practices allowed this - by promoting more retail corridors & centers elsewhere in town, & by allowing a monstrosity as Cherry Rd to develop to begin with.

http://www.heraldonline.com/109/story/8478.html

Lastly - downtown. The city has won accolades for decades for the many reinventions of downtown. But from past visits & reports, downtown isn't what it should be. It's improving - kind of, residential units are planned around downtown from what I have read. But it's hardly bustling with activity - at any time of the day.

My point - not that Rock Hill isn't experiencing anything dissimilar with other cities or (gasp) suburb - but what is clear is despite all the planning, Rock Hill is becoming another faceless suburb. It's downtown is pretty but largely useless, it can now claim more than 1 badly aged commercial strip - but with the growth that the surrounding area is experiencing, it is hardly a case of decline.

Call my rant a naive sign of homesickness, but what troubles me is that RH has received great attention for it's plans - downtown mall, office parks, parkways, & now streetcars, transit centers & redevelopment of the mill. But is Rock Hill any better off than Anderson or Florence? That the 'great plan' for Rock Hill has always seemed to be in a vacuam largely ignorant of the real economic forces that exists, makes Rock Hill a city of promise, but failed ventures. Most of RH's far-reaching plans of the 70's & 80's has decentralized the city further & essentially dissolved the town's once significant commercial center in downtown. When should plans be taking seriously?

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I already knew about the old Rock Hill Mall site redevelopment, and when I found out that a Super Bi-Lo was coming, it was evident that the one further up on Cherry Road would close (just like the Bi-Lo on Anderson Road that moved into the old Winn-Dixie building, leaving another big box empty)--so it's good to see that deteriorating strip redeveloped, but sad that apparently another will take its place.

I just found out about the Harris Teeter closing on yesterday. I should have known that something was up when it went from being a 24-hour store to having limited hours. Living in close proximity to Winthrop, I really lament the company's decision and wonder how long that space will remain empty.

It's very true that downtown isn't doing as well as it should--for one, the textile redevelopment project has been dragging on FOREVER. Last I heard, it was the clean-up that was taking so long. I did see some minor work on the site a few weeks ago, but not much beyond that.

Rock Hill is indeed suburbanizing--maybe that hasn't been made as clear as it should have been by me and others that are familiar with the city in our "cheerleading," but hey, what relatively prosperous, growing city isn't? Perhaps the perspective on Rock Hill has been regional. When compared to the other satellite cities in the Charlotte metro area (Concord, Gastonia, Monroe, etc.), Rock Hill is doing well. The population is increasing, and I suspect that the city will once again be named in the official MSA designation by 2010, displacing Concord.

Is Rock Hill any better than Florence and Anderson? I would believe so, but what makes this so is largely its close proximity to Charlotte, one of the fastest-growing, prosperous areas in the South. The Upstate and the Pee Dee simply aren't seeing the growth, development, and investment that this area is seeing, and that is a REALLY big factor here.

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^ Thanks for helping out my curiosity, having not been back to RH in 10 years (since my 10 year high school graduation) I depend a lot on forums & the newspaper to gauge what is going on. I've been assuming that Rock Hill was developing more into a new urbanist model with the streetcar plan, downtown redevelopment & mill redevelopment. But I've had to question if that is the reality...

My comparison with Florence & Anderson, or Monroe, NC for that matter - is understanding that Rock Hill is receiving a large deal of growth from Charlotte. But has that growth 'improved' RH from what it was - or in comparison to Anderson or Florence. One would assume the growth would make the city more livable, as it transforms from a minor regional town to a suburban city.

Anyways, thanks for allowing me to absorb myself in some nostalgia ;)

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^No problem. But what I will say is that I'm not aware of any concrete plans by Florence and Anderson that target downtown as extensively as Rock Hill's plans. While these plans seem to be moving along very slowly, or even at a standstill, at least they are in place. Downtown, you will find a few vacant parcels with signs indicating that the city wants them developed (including the CATS park and ride lot). Also, Rock Hill and Fort Mill are considering something like bus rapid transit along the Hwy 21 corridor that will link up to the LRT line in Pineville, and Rock Hill is considering bus service itself (which is already needed, I think).

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I think Rock Hill tends to slip under the radar in SC due to its close ties with Charlotte. I know that a lot of RH members post in that section to talk about this city.

I know that Rock Hill is somewhat of a mystery to me in that regard... however, I think its plans that currently exist show a promising future, and I think Rock Hill is moving in a positive direction, albiet an extremely suburban one. The developments on Dave Lyle Blvd are much, much better than the Cherry Rd Strip. These are attractive commercial centers that encourage walking to some extent.

The trolley plan for Rock Hill is a cool concept, but I question its feasablity. However, the development plans for this area have been highlighted at the state level, and they make an effort to promote infill in and more importantly around downtown. I think downtown Rock Hill would be much better if the areas adjacent to it weren't so unattractive. It seems to the visitor that these areas don't connect very well, and that the neighborhoods are not as strong as the could/should be.

The BRT to Charlotte is not a good idea. I think that if they are going to build anything of the like, they should just extend the LRT from Charlotte to Rock Hill. BRT will just create unnecessary layovers, and will probably dissuade passengers from taking the train to Charlotte.

As for a Rock Hill transit system, I am sort of surprised that there isn't one given Rock Hill's size. Rock Hill's UA is at least the size of Anderson isn't it? (70,000-80,000)

I think the reality is that Rock Hill has a lot going for it. They can't expect lots of high density development. but that Mill could be great student oriented housing, and I am certain that there are people who would want to live downtown. Rock Hill's biggest challenge is to get people interested in living downtown while still having the commute to Charlotte as a viable option. I'm not sure how that could be combined though.

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Great points Spartan.

About the areas surrounding downtown, I think the biggest gap will be between downtown and the redeveloped textile corridor, which is separated by railroad tracks and Dave Lyle Blvd, and right now crossing over Dave Lyle isn't a pedestrian-friendly experience. Hopefully this will be improved sometime in the future. But the railroad tracks still present a big physical and psychological barrier. Also, the Saluda Road corridor, which connects with downtown, isn't the most attractive--although the city has streetscaped a part of the street. That corridor has what a lot of people would consider seedy areas. But the other neighborhoods around downtown aren't too bad; some are rather nice. I need to try to get some pictures soon.

I think you got the major concern right--living downtown with quick access to the interstate. Right now, I really miss living right by the interstate, as I practically live on campus.

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Ok - good points, but still - plans are just talk. Rock Hill's greatest fault may be the city has outplanned itself - it planned it's sprawl. But the city has for decades planned for a strong downtown, with little to show for it. Kb, you mention Saluda St, I can recall big talks in the late 80's for it's renewal.

But what Rock Hill in the past has so aggressively planned - downtown, Dave Lyle corridor, Ebenezer corridor, Saluda St corridor - is very different from what was intended. Partly Dave Lyle has come to fruitition, yet it is debatable what type aesthetic feel that the mall has. Yet Rock Hill has agressively planned for suburban office parks for decades - since the Airport office park.

Downtown - the lack of connectivity in particular - is due to Rock Hill's plans. You may argue that the plans that were put in place were due to the era, such as using large highways to divide downtown from the lower income neighborhoods. But still - downtown is a product of extensive city planning.

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At this point, besides the textile corridor redevelopment project, I don't know what can be done to help downtown. A recent failure was plans for a pizza joint that decided to locate in the Millwood project on Herlong (another suburban development, but at least it's infill--and has a pretty good selection of stores, for Rock Hill at least).

I guess the issue isn't planning, or even overplanning, but lack of execution. Greenville's Main Street and the Vista in Columbia were no accidents--there was planning involved, but I think the success of those areas was due to the fact that they were largely bottom-up ventures and not top-down. I guess Rock Hill isn't priming the pump in such a way that private investment will follow and the market takes it from there.

Also, being that downtown Rock Hill isn't the centerpiece of the region, it's going to be hard to attract investment downtown, especially when Waterford Park and space along I-77 will typically be better deals financially and have better interstate access.

The only solution I can come up with would be for city leaders to not restrict urbanity to downtown. Much easier said than done, especially when downtown has the infrastructure already in place to lend itself to urbanity, but I guess Rock Hill is really going to have to think outside of the box on this one. A commuter rail line to Charlotte would do wonders, I think. TOD in Rock Hill would be pretty awesome.

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kb - great answer & I think that was where I was going with this.

... where on Herlong is Millwood? Ok... this is showing my age, but I remember when Herlong was a road called Cathcart & it was dirt. That was before the hospital was built.

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Yes, you ARE showing your age, LOL.

Millwood Plantation is on Herlong between India Hook and Ebenezer. As I stated, it's pretty suburban, but I must admit, if I were looking to settle down in Rock Hill on a permanent basis, I'd consider buying one of the townhomes in that development.

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As I was riding down Dave Lyle the other night, I wondered: will the development (or sprawl, depending on your point of view) eventuall reach Main? Development along Dave Lyle is already creeping closer and closer to downtown, as evidenced by the new First Baptist Church complex and Manchester Meadows soccer complex (which is pretty cool).

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There are finally some signs that Rock Hill is experiencing urban growth.

Construction/renovation/demolition has begun on an old mill in the textile corridor (check that thread for updates).

St. John UMC is doing some construction on their property downtown:

StJohnconstruction.jpg

And the Citizens' Bank building downtown, known as the Professional Building, has recently been restored (I didn't even know it was undergoing restoration, until I saw the article in the paper). It is in the process of looking for more tenants. HDR Engineering of the Carolinas is already on the 4th floor, and the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. is on the 5th. Two shots of the building:

thecitizensbank_front.jpg

thecitizensbank.jpg

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^ Cool, about time something happened with that building. I remember they were trying to do something with that building 15 years ago. Also, HDR is a very large engineering firm, known nationally. I worked with some HDR employees back in Atlanta.

Also, nice to know that the only church I ever belonged to (parents took advantage of the free childcare when I was a tot) is still in downtown. I had thought I remembered First Baptist moved down Dave Lyle out of town.

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Yeah, they are further out, on Dave Lyle now. Another church has moved into the old sanctuary though (Freedom Temple Ministries), after having once committed to doing so, then backing out.

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I like that Citizens Bank building. Nice shot, Krazee. Was that in the morning?

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^Sure was.

I also found out recently that the old McCrory's building on Main where the "Friendship Nine" staged their historic sit-in in the 60's will become a museum. The dedication will be next week.

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^ Glad to hear that Rock Hill is honoring it's place in the civil rights movement. Still sad when Friendhsip College closed though. But I want to think the McCrory's became the Woolworths - not positive, if it did I do remember when the Woolworths was still open & the soda bar where the event took place.

Another civil rights moment, though dubious - is Atlanta's house rep John Lewis was beaten up in Rock Hill in the early 60's for not giving up his seat on the bus.

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I also found out recently that the old McCrory's building on Main where the "Friendship Nine" staged their historic sit-in in the 60's will become a museum. The dedication will be next week.

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^ Glad to hear that Rock Hill is honoring it's place in the civil rights movement. Still sad when Friendhsip College closed though. But I want to think the McCrory's became the Woolworths - not positive, if it did I do remember when the Woolworths was still open & the soda bar where the event took place.

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^ I thought it was Clinton Junior College that was still open until recently - Rock Hill actually had 2 historically black colleges. Clinton is off of Heckle south of McConnels Hwy & Friendship is tucked within a neighborhood just west of downtown.

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There are finally some signs that Rock Hill is experiencing urban growth.

Construction/renovation/demolition has begun on an old mill in the textile corridor (check that thread for updates).

St. John UMC is doing some construction on their property downtown:

StJohnconstruction.jpg

And the Citizens' Bank building downtown, known as the Professional Building, has recently been restored (I didn't even know it was undergoing restoration, until I saw the article in the paper). It is in the process of looking for more tenants. HDR Engineering of the Carolinas is already on the 4th floor, and the Rock Hill Economic Development Corp. is on the 5th. Two shots of the building:

thecitizensbank_front.jpg

thecitizensbank.jpg

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It does. They just don't make them like that anymore.

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I pinned this thread because I jsut realized that we didn't have a pinned thread for Rock Hill yet.

The following images were taken from an information sheet on Rock Hill's Downtown Master Plan that was recently completed. All of these were new to me, but I apologize if these have been posted before:

RockHIll_MasterPlan.jpg

RockHill_MP_buliding.jpg

rockhillbuilding3.jpg

Keep in mind that all of these are conceptual, but it gives you a solid feel for what types of development Rock Hill wants downtown and the surrounding area. The plan specifcially says that they want to toarget neighborhoods for revitalization and getting more permanent residents downtown.

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