York City's Redevelopment Authority is nearing a settlement agreement with the owner of 1 N. George St. to buy the architectural gem for $515,000.
The former Citizens Bank building sits on the northeast corner of Continental Square. The bank vacated the property in early 2012.
Even though the property has an asking price of $700,000, the building's owner has "verbally accepted our offer," said David Cross, the RDA's chairman.
"We need to enter an agreement that makes it official," he said.
While it's true the property's price is "(a) little out of our normal sweet spot," the building's location on the square made it a valuable acquisition, Cross said.
An anonymous donor is covering part of the $515,000 expense, and the RDA is using unrestricted funds to cover the rest, he said.
Cross said the RDA became especially interested in the building when another prospective buyer proposed a "less-than-desirable use of the property."
He declined to identify the proposed use or the other interested buyer.
Cross said the building's value is appraised at about $800,000.
Identifying a long-term use of the building will be a challenge, he said.
"It's such an extraordinary structure, but it's a structure that isn't going to meet everybody's needs," he said.
For example, the high ceilings might lend the main building to a museum or art gallery, but it won't work as office space, he said.
The 25,356-square-foot structure was built in 1924, according to a listing on the ROCK Commercial website.
The property includes a three-story attached office structure, the listing says.
After the settlement is finalized, the RDA will solicit input from economic-development professionals, architects and planners about the best use for the building, Cross said.
That could eventually lead to a Request for Proposals outlining "some criteria around what we hope to achieve as a community," he said.
The RDA wants to put the building back on the real-estate market quickly.
"I do feel a certain sense of urgency to try to move it along," Cross said.
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