Innovation district plans move forward in York City's Northwest Triangle

York Dispatch

Developers are moving ahead with plans to build an innovation district on abandoned lots in the city's Northwest Triangle. 

The York City Redevelopment Authority board granted York Exponential CEO John McElligott a 12-month extension on an existing agreement for a 2-acre lot adjacent to the Codorus Creek as well as agreements on additional properties in the area at an Oct. 17 meeting. 

The additional properties will allow McElligott and partner Dean Harrison, CEO of Baltimore-based Harrison Development LLC, to create a holistic master plan for the project, the developers said. 

"From our perspective, it makes much more sense to have a cohesive plan that’s master planned with the whole innovation district in mind and make sure these buildings complement each other — the uses complement each other, the designs complement each other and the way we structure the financing complements each other," Harrison said. 

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The project will now include the 208-236 N. Beaver St. property.

The board also voted that RDA staff could negotiate an agreement regarding 146 N. Beaver St. and an adjacent vacant area called Lot 3. McElligott said on Oct. 19 that he has since negotiated and acquired those properties to build on. 

In addition to an innovation campus that will house robotics companies, the plans include a mixed-use development, with residential living, retail space and about 140 parking spots, Harrison said. 

There will also be an amenity area with a fitness center, bike center, co-working space and other game areas, he added.

A deck along overlooking Codorus Creek will show off the "beautiful vista," Harrison said. 

Community involvement: As the project moves forward, Harrison said, developers want to gain input from the community. 

Once it's up and running, local students can come in and see what's happening in the innovation space — and possibly join the workforce when they graduate, he said. 

"So it's a cycle of economic development, intellectual development as well as economic development for the whole community," he said. 

In addition to including green space in the project's design, McElligott said he's working with a company in Harrisburg that specializes in aquaponics and hydroponics, gardening methods that don't require soil, to grow food on the building. 

"We'd like to have the building actually represent feeding the city legitimately," he said. 

The state granted $6 million for the project in June.

McElligott said he plans on breaking ground on the project's first phase early next year.