To hear some tell it, York City might very well have been designated a City Revitalization Improvement Zone late last year — if only it had created the proper authority in time.
York was one of five cities seeking state approval to create one of two available zones designed to spur urban development by diverting tax dollars back to project costs.
The application was disqualified, however, because it designated an existing authority to implement the CRIZ program — but failed to amend the articles of incorporation to include those powers.
In fact, the city council had created the proper CRIZ Authority, but given the short time frame set by the state — it issued guidelines on Oct. 31 and set an application deadline for Nov. 31 — the paperwork wasn't finished in time.
Designating the existing General Authority was a Plan B, one that failed to pass muster with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
It was a pity, because the rest of York's application was said to be top-notch.
House Majority Whip Stan Saylor — a Windsor Township Republican who worked on bringing the CRIZ to York — said the city's application was "definitely one of the top two."
Included in the application were projects such as a $40 million transformation of the old York Prison site into a data center, an $18 million hotel on an old industrial site near the York fairgrounds, and an $8 million transformation of the former York City Post Office on South George Street into a hotel and high-end restaurant.
Within a decade, the city estimated, the CRIZ would create 10,130 construction jobs and nearly 11,000 other jobs, according to the application.
All is not lost, however.
The legislation that created CRIZ establishes a possible second round of designations for 2016, followed by one designation each year after that.
The program is so popular, there's a bipartisan push in the House, led by Saylor, to give two more Pennsylvania cities a chance as early as this year, while a Senate proposal would authorize the creation of 15 additional zones before 2016.
If any of those scenarios plays out, York will be ready.
The CRIZ Authority that was days shy of being official for the first round has been holding public meetings each month since it got its paperwork together. The authority's members have spent their time educating themselves about the program, York's application and the city's overall economic-development strategy.
When the time comes, said Bob Pullo, who is chairing the authority, "we want to be ready."
Time might not have been on York's side for the first round, but it has a good running start for the next.