York City eyes purchase of former Dentsply campus

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York City may be throwing its hat in the ring for the former Dentsply International property. 

The City Council approved a letter of intent for the property known as the "Dentsply College Avenue Campus," which has 30 parcels on 17.38 acres.

The letter of intent will allow the city to receive specific information about the property from broker Cushman & Wakefield and to carefully evaluate the property.

Purchasing the property would allow York City to control what's done with the property, according to Blanda Nace, the chief opportunity development officer with the Redevelopment Authority.

"Our thought is having the city or the RDA or both have site control allows us the ability to determine what is best for our community," Nace said at the council's April 27 committee meeting. "It's got a lot of potential. We need to make sure the right thing happens out there, and we need to make sure our community is helping to make that decision." 

The letter of intent states that the city will spend no more than $4 million to purchase the Dentsply property. The motion does not state where that funding will come from.

Offers for the property are due May 6. 

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Nace said Tuesday night that the range that had been given by the broker for the purchase price is between $3 million and $5 million. 

"This is kind of an odd situation where someone is putting the property on the market without a price," he said. "I think we'll have a solid letter of intent, which would allow us then to receive additional information and do some continued necessary due diligence on the property."  

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Mayor Michael Helfrich noted the letter of intent does not yet encumber the city. 

After the meeting, York City Council President Sandie Walker said she voted in favor of the letter of intent because it doesn't commit the city to spending yet.

"We have to work out ... what plan there's going to be. We have to talk about that," she said. 

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Dentsply moved its headquarters from York to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2019. In 2020, the dental supply company announced it was closing its facility in the York area and laying off 200 employees.

In addition to approving the letter of intent, the City Council received a bill to amend the city's residency requirement to allow employees to live outside of the city limits as long as they reside in York County or any of the neighboring counties.

The council also received a bill that would amend the city's human relations ordinance to protect people from discrimination based on their hairstyles.

During a news conference before the council meeting, Council Vice President Edquina Washington said she has experienced various microaggressions because of her hair and noted residents have shared experiences and their need for the legislation to be passed.

"Today, I stand here in my full authority as a councilwoman announcing that the days of tolerating race-based hair discrimination in the city of York is hopefully soon over," Washington said.

Human Relations Commission Chair Stephanie Seaton noted that the last time the ordinance had been altered was in 1997. 

"This is not something we take lightly," she said.

Seaton and Washington encouraged other municipalities to pass the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act as well.

Those two agenda items will be voted on at the council's next meeting, scheduled for May 18. 

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.