The unusual landlord of a downtown apartment complex is looking to sell its building.

As the building's owner, the York City Redevelopment Authority has been collecting tenants' rent and maintaining the 238 N. George St. building for the past year. It is preparing a request for proposals that could be released to the public later this month.

Ideally, the winning proposal will feature mixed-income housing at what's currently known as the Pullman Apartments, said Shilvosky Buffaloe, the city's deputy director of economic and community development.

That said, "nothing's really off the table," Buffaloe said.

In 1995, the city lent $475,000 to the Pullman Apartment Limited Partnership to fund its transformation of a former automobile company into affordable housing for seniors and low-income people.

The loan was supposed to be repaid in full by 2010, but none of it ever was, according to city officials. That put the partnership's building at risk of foreclosure.

The arrangement: A year of negotiation with property owners culminated in an agreement to transfer the building's deed to the city.

In July 2012, the York City Council approved the agreement. Tenants have been paying rent to the city ever since.

But the arrangement has been controversial. Tenants have publicly criticized the city's plan -- or lack of a plan -- for the building, and other officials have questioned the wisdom of a municipality entering the rental business.

Buffaloe said his goal is to request proposals, evaluate those ideas and make a decision as transparently as possible.


Advertisement

Interest: More than 30 individuals and groups have expressed interest in buying the building -- appraised at $770,000 -- since the city acquired it, Buffaloe said. All of those potential developers will receive a copy of the request for proposals, he said.

Buffaloe said he'll also post the request on the city's website, www.yorkcity.org.

Buffaloe said he plans to present the request to the redevelopment authority for approval at its Oct. 16 meeting. Potential developers will likely have three months to submit proposals.

Tenants: About a third of the building's tenants have chosen to leave since the city acquired the building, Buffaloe said. When that happens, the city is offering those apartments to renters at market rate, he said.

The city has also instituted a no-smoking policy that could trigger more tenants to relocate, Buffaloe said.

Until the authority accepts a proposal and a sale is finalized, the fate of the remaining tenants is unknown, he said.

If a buyer maintains the building as affordable

or mixed-income housing, many of the tenants might be unaffected.

To soften the blow of potential displacement, the city could offer lease extensions at some point so that tenants have time to plan, Buffaloe said. Proposals that are sensitive to the needs of current tenants will be more highly regarded, he said.

"We're really shifting the burden to a responsible developer," Buffaloe said.

-- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.