Development of the Eden Road Project
Site When Purchased:
by Blanda Nace
Vice President, YCEA Community Affairs
In 2009 Harley-Davidson began exploring cost-saving measures and exploring the possibility of building a new facility. Efficiencies and building the “Factory of the future” were high priorities. They had engaged with a national site-selector firm to evaluate locations in several communities throughout the United States. Remaining in York was also an option.
One of the disadvantages to York was the age and scale of the existing property and the myriad of buildings. The New Factory would be one building, it would be an efficient, streamlined assembly plant. The aged and sprawling campus on Eden Road was outdated and needed major revitalization to meet new standards. As part of an incentive package request to stay in Pennsylvania, Harley-Davidson asked that the Commonwealth purchase the excess land. The Commonwealth immediately approached the York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA) with a proposal to assist with retaining Harley-Davidson in Pennsylvania.
In September of 2009, the YCIDA and Harley-Davidson started to negotiate a sales agreement and a discussion about how to subdivide the 228 acres into two parcels, so that the YCIDA could acquire the portion to be called “The West Campus,” an area later determined to be 58 acres as part of the company’s restructuring efforts at the facility.
On December 2, 2009, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development offered a $500,000 Infrastructure Development Program Grant to assist with the purchase price, as long as the acquisition would create at least 20 new jobs and at least $1 Million in site improvements to the West Campus within the next five years. Meanwhile, YCIDA Solicitor Jeff Rehmeyer of CGA Law, proposed the property be purchased for a lesser amount, and the YCIDA and Harley-Davidson could split any proceeds from a future sale to a developer. Both parties agreed to put the property out in the open. The YCIDA approved the purchase on December 15, 2009. At this time, the project was expected to take between 18 and 24 months.
In a January 5, 2010 YCIDA press release, John D. Krout, Chairman YCIDA stated, “This acquisition is another example of the role the York County Industrial Development Authority can play in fostering economic development in York County. We are pleased to partner with Harley-Davidson and the Commonwealth in working toward the redevelopment of this site with the goals of achieving its highest and best use, job creation and new business development.”
The sales agreement allowed for the YCIDA to determine which of the seventeen buildings on the property were to be kept and which to be demolished. Buildings ranged in size from 348 square feet to 452,185 square feet and totaled 875,378 square feet of space. The YCIDA engaged the services of NuTec Design Associates, Inc. to analyze and report on the condition of each of the buildings. The YCIDA also invited numerous developers and potential users to the site to determine the feasibility of reuse of the existing manufacturing buildings. By September of 2010, the YCIDA had determined that all buildings should be demolished except for Building Number 1, the office and former Visitors Center. That 71,000 square foot building, originally constructed in 1941 as the home of the York Safe & Lock Company, was renovated in 2002 and was constructed of 14-inch thick poured concrete walls. It was also determined that the concrete slab floors would remain from the sixteen buildings to be demolished, so that the impervious surface would remain and that environmental conditions could continue to be monitored by the YCIDA and Harley-Davidson.
Building Number 1 also became the location of Harley-Davidson’s training center, known as their Simulated Work Environment. The YCIDA and Harley-Davidson entered in to a lease agreement that would allow that building to remain as a training center for Harley-Davidson for up to five years as the YCIDA tried to find a user to redevelop the site.
As demolition progressed and as Harley-Davidson consolidated operations and converted their Building Number 3 (Softail plant) into “New Factory York,” the YCIDA started to market the property to potential purchasers and worked to identify any environmental issues at the site.
In January 2010 the YCIDA solicited for qualified environmental consultants to assist in preparing the property for a buyer/seller agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Attorney Paul Bruder of Rhoads & Sinon, LLP from Harrisburg was selected as the YCIDA’s environmental attorney and ARM Group of Hershey was chosen as the environmental engineering consultant. Through the efforts of the environmental consultants, and the ongoing site monitoring that was being performed by Harley-Davidson, the YCIDA was able to develop an agreement with PaDEP that outlined the future uses allowed on site and secured a letter from the U.S. EPA that supported the agreement.
In April 2010, the York County Industrial Development Authority released the first Request for Proposals from site developers. “This is one of the highest profile, best located, and accessible sites in York County with substantial improvements and infrastructure in place,” said John D. Krout, Chairman of the YCIDA. “As such we hope to generate substantial interest among qualified developers.” Even after multiple site tours and national advertising efforts, sadly, there were no responses to the RFP on the July 13, 2010 deadline.
Over the next 18 months, the YCIDA worked with Harley-Davidson to subdivide the 228 parcel into two lots. During this time, Harley-Davidson worked on site demolition and campus restructuring and reorganization, while they were constructing an addition to create New Factory York. Both parties worked diligently to prepare the “West Campus” to become the new home for some unknown future user and purpose that would create jobs and add to the economic value of York County. The new parcel was extensively surveyed, old easements and rights-of-way were mapped, environmental conditions were narrowed down and utility locations and future utility capacities were managed.
JMT of York was hired as a design consultant to determine what the potential site build-out could eventually look like, and what the capacity of the site could become as a manufacturing facility with supporting retail spaces. Their conceptual layout created 587,000 square feet of space in five buildings and was used as marketing material to entice developers to the project site.
On June 14, 2012, the YCIDA officially purchased the 58 acres from Harley-Davidson. By this time, Harley-Davidson had relocated its Simulated Work Environment into Building Number 1 and leased Building Number 1 from the YCIDA. This leaseback was scheduled to terminate on 12/31/2015.
In November of that same year, the YCIDA, after months of working with a Harrisburg-based real estate broker, received a letter of intent from a large real estate developer based in Texas to develop a one-million square foot warehouse and distribution facility that would serve the Northeast United States. The YCIDA and the developer reached an agreement on February 5, 2013. For the next several months, the developer worked with the YCIDA, Harley-Davidson and their potential tenants to develop a layout for the site that would create a large distribution facility to the project site. By August of 2013, the developers were not comfortable about the timeline and some site unknowns, and the developer terminated their agreement with the YCIDA.
Just a few months later, through the efforts of Rock Real Estate, another developer with offices in Florida and New York, came forward with an offer. They were under contract to purchase the site in March of 2014 and spent nearly a year working with two or three big-box retailers to bring major retail to Eden Road. After understanding where environmental sampling wells were located and the physical constraints of the site, this developer was unable to convince their tenants that this would be an “easy” location to develop. In January of 2015, they also terminated their agreement.
In March of 2015 the YCIDA did another marketing push for the site. A very specific and detailed request was sent to several large developers and real estate brokers. The YCIDA received three proposals in this round from three very qualified developers. The project that made the most sense for the site at this point in time was the proposal from NorthPoint Development of Kansas City, Missouri.
NorthPoint had an aggressive schedule and was prepared to move swiftly to redevelop the site. By May of 2015, the site was under contract with NorthPoint, thanks in part to the efforts of Attorney Ron Hershner, YCIDA Solicitor, at Stock and Leader. Throughout the summer of 2015, NorthPoint, the YCIDA and the York County Economic Alliance worked with Springettsbury Township, Central York School District and the County of York to secure approvals for site redevelopment. During this time, environmental reviews continued with the assistance provided by PaDEP and Harley-Davidson. A soil management plan was developed and multiple consultants worked on the most appropriate plans for reuse of the site. In November of 2015, the Eden Road parcel was sold to NP 58, LLC, a division of NorthPoint Development.
In a November 24, 2015, press release YCIDA Chairman, Jack Kay said “Working in conjunction with Harley-Davidson, The West Campus project was an opportunity to take an underutilized site in a strategic location and facilitate the redevelopment resulting in the highest and best use of the site. It is another example of the commitment and dedication that the YCIDA has to improving the York community and spurring economic growth. We are excited to welcome NorthPoint to York.”
“NorthPoint’s investment in York County was premised on the strong transportation and logistics network, along with a strong skilled workforce in the area. From the beginning, we were impressed with the work of the YCIDA and their ability to make this transaction happen. As an organization we believe that capital goes where it is welcome, and we felt welcomed by the YCIDA and all the other governmental entities in the area. We look forward to a successful project that will provide positive economic development for the community,” stated Larry Lapinski, Vice President of Development for NorthPoint Development.
As environmental remediation needed at the project site and during construction and remediation activities continued, the site ownership was transferred to the Redevelopment Authority of the County of York (RACY). RACY was the recipient of an Industrial Sites Reuse Program grant from the Commonwealth of PA that provided financial assistance to remediate the site. Through a Development and Cooperation agreement, NorthPoint was able to begin construction on the RACY-owned site.
NorthPoint continued a very aggressive timeline of goals for completion. Over the next year, YCEA staff, Stock and Leader, and the RACY Board of Directors, in conjunction with NorthPoint, worked through the layers of development plans, permits, township approvals and all the other details required for such a large project. NorthPoint was also working to identify a tenant that would be the perfect fit for such a location and that would be a good fit for our community.
Through marketing efforts provided by Cushman-Wakefield Commercial Real Estate Brokers and other connections maintained by NorthPoint, in September 2016, they were able to secure a tenant who will occupy 600,000 square feet of the 755,000 building.