Saturday, December 9, 2023

Land Across from Water Country USA Sold as ‘Speculative Investment’

A zoning map included with the 2014 conditional economic opportunity zoning application shows the 32-acres at 200 Water Country that were sold in October 2015. (Image courtesy of York County)
A zoning map included with the 2014 conditional economic opportunity zoning application shows the 32 acres at 200 Water Country sold in October 2015. (Image courtesy of York County)

A 32-acre parcel of land across from Water Country USA has been sold by Anheuser-Busch, but any future development at the site remains unclear.

The land, which was approved for a future retail use in 2014, was sold in October by subsidiary Busch Properties Inc. for $1 million to St. Louis-based financial planner BryanMark Group.

According to York County property records, the assessed land value of the parcel in 2014 was $3,139,000.

Jim Noel, York County’s director of economic development, said Anheuser-Busch is trying to liquidate assets not related to its brewing operation and was looking to sell this land quickly.

During a September 2014, York County Planning Commission meeting, Michael Goellner of Anheuser-Busch said this particular parcel had been on the market for 30 years.

“They were trying to dispose of what they consider to be surplus property,” Noel said. “I think [BryanMark] was able to acquire it well under the market value because of that reason.”

Noel said BryanMark’s purchase was a “speculative investment,” meaning the risk of loss from the purchase is offset by the potential gain. He said there are no users for the property at this time.

BryanMark Group did not respond to requests for comment.

When the Board of Supervisors approved conditions to the parcel’s economic opportunity zoning in 2014, the application was presented jointly with one for Whittaker’s Mill, a 77-acre residential community on Penniman and Winchester roads now being developed by Mid-Atlantic Commercial.

Supervisor Walt Zaremba (Dist. 1) represents Upper York County where the parcel is located and said he would be “hard-pressed to identify anything that could survive out there” before the Whittaker’s Mill community is completed.

Some retail options, including animal hospitals with outside runs, night clubs, autobody shops, bus terminals, and manufacturing plants are prohibited by the approved conditions of the parcel’s zoning.

“Other than summer traffic it’s kind of off the beaten path. Maybe folks would come across from the Marquis shopping center to Whittaker’s Mill,” Zaremba said. “At the moment, it would be too speculative to say ‘This is the kind of commercial development that should go in there’ until we see more growth out there.”

Despite the uncertainty of what development will occur at the site, Noel said there is good news: The Whittaker’s Mill proposal includes $350,000 from Busch Properties to realign Water Country Parkway to the intersection of Route 199 and Marquis Parkway, which would connect any future retail to Route 199.

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