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The City of Simpsonville has missed out on a $970,000 Community Development Block Grant that was intended to help Horizon Group Properties with needed sewer and water work for its 364,000-square-foot outlet mall.
City officials applied in November for the grant – which is funded by the federal government but administered by state to aid small cities with development needs – and received its rejection on Friday.
The grant would have covered the costs of extending the sewer and water lines from the north side of Interstate 64, near the Pilot station on Buck Creek Road, to the south side of the interstate and into Horizon’s development.
Horizon last week received from the Triple S Planning Commission its final approval to begin construction on the 50-acre Outlet Shoppes at Louisville, which would include nine buildings and two out lots at the intersection of Buck Creek and Veechdale roads.
The project will coincide with the state’s widening of Buck Creek Road from its intersection with U.S 60 to the outlet mall. Horizon will reroute Veechdale Road so it intersects with Buck Creek Road south of the outlet mall and circles the development.
“We felt pretty good about our chances,” said David Eaton, Simpsonville city administrator. “But all you can do is make the effort, and we did.”
Eaton said it appears that The Department of Local Government, which issues the funds, just didn’t have as much to dole out this year.
“The pool of money just isn’t as great as in the past,” he said. “I think it’s becoming more and more difficult to get these kinds of grants.”
However, Eaton said not getting the grant isn’t going to stop the project.
“We’re still going to extend those lines under the interstate. We just won’t pay for it with the grant,” he said. “Horizon will be responsible for it.”
Horizon Senior Vice President Tom Rumptz, who is in charge of the project, said the company is aware of the changes.
“I didn’t know they had received a formal letter, but we had been told there was a phone call that said it wasn’t likely,” he said.
He also wasn’t sure how losing the grant would affect the project.
“We had an expectation of the grant coming through, so this is a challenge,” he said. “It’s something we well review.”
Rumptz would not comment on if the cost of the line would affect the bottom line of the project sufficiently for the company to reconsider.
“I’d just have to say that it’s something that we will review,” he said.
However, the city of Simpsonville still could help out with the project.
In January, the city commission passed, at Horizon’s request, an enterprise incentive program that allows the city to waive the tap-on capacity fee.
“If they put the line in and turn it over to us, it would be a benefit and improvement to our system,” said Eaton. “At that point, they could receive a waiver of their tap-on capacity fee.”
That exact amount would not be known until Horizon applies for its sewer permits, which Eaton said should be within the next few months.
“The preliminary estimates are about three-hundred to three-hundred and fifty thousand [dollars],” he said.
So, if the tap-on capacity fee does turn out to be $350,000, that would be the maximum waiver Horizon would could receive toward its costs.
Work under way
Workers were on the property this week clearing trees, and Rumptz said the work would continue to meet an Army Corps of Engineers’ deadline.
“The tree clearing has to be done by April 1 as part of the permit requirements from the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said. “They don’t want any trees cleared in the area of the habitat between April and October.”
Rumptz also added that the project continues to be on time, with a planned opening of late summer 2014.