Inch and Co. seeks tax abatements for Spooky Nook-style sports complex

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

The York County builder behind the proposed Spooky Nook-style sports complex at the former Central York athletic fields is seeking tax abatements from local governments for the project.

Inch & Co. launched discussions with North York borough Tuesday regarding the tax-abatement program. The company doesn’t plan to seek relief from the borough, according to Joe Eisenhauer, Inch & Co.'s director of land development.

Rather, he said, it will seek a tax break from York County and the school district, Central York.

CEO Jeff Inch, in an interview with The York Dispatch, said he believes the property — which has remained vacant for years while other developers came and went — would qualify for a tax abatement. If warehouses and other for-profit enterprises in the county can qualify for the program, he said, he believes the sports complex should be able to, as well.

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"The only way this works is to have a whole community spectrum involved," Inch said. "We need the taxes obviously with LERTA. We need the borough's approval. We need investors, we need donations. It takes the whole entire community to put this thing together, not just one company."

LERTA, also known as Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, is a tax-abatement program to encourage development and renovations in deteriorated areas. The program applies tax abatement to the value of the increase in property tax assessment due to property rehabilitation or new construction, according to York County's website.

A digital rendering of the proposed athletic facility at the site of the former Central York High School athletic field in North York borough. Courtesy of Inch and Co

During Tuesday's North York Borough Council meeting, Inch & Co. officials shared assessments of what the tax impact will be. Currently, the property generates $3,947 annually in taxes just in North York borough. Officials anticipate the improved value of the developed property could generate upward of $260,000 in tax revenue, according to Eisenhauer.

Even though Inch & Co. will not be seeking an abatement from North York borough, the company still needs the borough's approval of an ordinance to designate the property for LERTA status.

The motion passed in a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, with councilperson Vivian Amspacher opposing the ordinance.

Though North York approved the land for a LERTA designation, Inch & Co. still must push applications through Central York School District and York County for approval. Inch was asked Thursday how it would affect the project if either entity denied LERTA approval.

"We'd have to go back to the drawing board, rerun the numbers without LERTA," Inch said. "But this is the perfect LERTA project, and so it's something that should pass with flying colors through every agency that's involved."

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The property has languished for years without new development despite previous attempts by others. Local restaurant owner Themistoklis Sacarellos, who proposed turning the space into a warehouse, was denied by the borough council in 2021.

Inch & Co. is inching closer toward officially breaking ground in North York.

The former Central York High School athletic field in North York borough, Thursday, April 27, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Most recently, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued the company its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which is a necessary step toward starting construction, according to Inch.

Though Inch said he projects a 2024 opening for the 250,000-square-foot sports complex, there is still work to do.

Ahead of construction, Inch & Co. plans to schedule final land approvals in June and submit building plans to North York in late summer.

The former Central York High School athletic field in North York borough, Thursday, April 27, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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A website showcasing the anticipated sports complex is available at https://www.inchsports.com/.

"It's really a multi-purpose facility that I think could really reach a lot of people in a positive way quickly," Inch said in April. "The heart and soul of this thing is really just being an outreach for the community."