Marquis plans still in place, but are moving slowly

Contact Reporterjoreyes@dailypress.com
Changes in the mix for Marquis area, but details are not yet concrete

Pieces are in place for the Marquis Shopping Center in northern York County to see some development after nearly 10 years of remaining mostly unchanged, but when those pieces fall into place is still up in the air.

Plans for the area, off Route 199 and next to Water Country USA, include a Sam's Club and a 600-unit subdivision consisting of 182 houses and 418 apartments. The plans also include a space for a new elementary school.

Jim Noel, the director of economic development, said possible new retail in the area across the street from Marquis and redesign of the Marquis intersection have been discussed as well.

The center is currently populated by a Target, Kohl's, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods and an empty J.C. Penney that closed in April 2015. The new Sam's Club building would sit between the J.C. Penney and Dick's Sporting Goods and include a gas station. The area of the subdivision and school is currently a treed, uncleared space behind the existing shopping center.

Noel is hopeful that the plans coming together can provide momentum for Marquis, which has faced challenges for years. "The original plans were fantastic," Noel said. "But right when the big boxes opened, the recession hit, the first developer went bankrupt and things just snowballed."

In addition to the big-box stores, the original proposal planned for smaller shops to be built to fill out Marquis, but Sam Daniel, a senior planner, said he didn't know if the little bit of land left after Sam's Club would attract smaller shops. Daniel and Susan Kassel, the chief of development services, said they have not seen plans for any new structures being built after Sam's Club.

Noel said a lack of signage on Interstate 64 was an early concern but said that was partially addressed when the portion of Route 199 that runs past the shopping center was named Marquis Center Parkway. The shopping center does not qualify for a sign because it does not have attractions like restaurants or hotels, but Noel said he is glad a sign on I-64 notifies of an exit for Marquis Center Parkway.

Noel said he was encouraged by what he's seen in the works lately, but acknowledged development of the Marquis area has moved slowly, leading to little movement in recent years.

Sam's Club bought the property in Marquis in 2015 and initially said it planned to begin building its store in 2016, then delayed to 2017. Noel said there has not been a hard commitment to a ground-breaking or opening date, so the 2017 construction start may change. On Thursday, a Sam's Club spokeswoman said in an email that there was no new information regarding the development.

But Sam's Club has submitted site plans and building plans for review by county officials.

Maryanne Harris, a county building official, said she sent the building plans back for review to meet current codes and has been in touch with the architect. She said she did not anticipate receiving modified plans for at least a month.

Kassel said her department has the Sam's Club site plans in hand and is reviewing them.

The first 51 houses in the subdivision are under review as well, but are likely to come after work begins on the Sam's Club. The subdivision would be built incrementally over several years.

The York County School Division is seeking proposals from architects for the new elementary school, said Carl James, chief operating officer for the school division. He said a timeline is not in place because the division is early in its process, but he guessed that if the school were to be built, construction would begin in 2020.

The new school is in the county's capital improvement plan but has not been formally discussed. James said a variable in the division's plans for the new school is how the housing developments in the area pan out.

While there are no plans for new businesses slated for Marquis besides Sam's Club, Noel said a group in Richmond bought the J.C. Penney building and is looking for tenants.

The county is working with the owners of the properties across from the shopping center on the west side of Marquis Center Parkway on future development. Noel said they are also looking into meshing Water Country Parkway and Marquis Parkway to create a four-way intersection with Marquis Center Parkway.

"I think those will create more energy for Marquis, even though development has been kind of slow," Noel said.

Reyes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4692.

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