Dozens of market-rate apartments are heading for downtown York as part of a multimillion dollar overhaul of a prominent historic building that developers say has been under-utilized for years.

Developer David Yohn is planning the renovation 1 Marketway West, which would include building an underground parking garage for residents, York County Commissioners said Wednesday.

The county owns the building, but Yohn Property Management has a $1.3 million purchase contract. Commissioners on Wednesday approved an agreement in which the county moves from first lien position to second lien position, which means the county would be second to get its money if Yohn defaults on a $4 million loan from Fulton Bank, said county solicitor Mike Flannelly.

"Obviously, first lien position is better than second lien, but this project would not move forward but for the approval of the conditions from Fulton," Flannelly said.

Commissioners were satisfied the merits of the project outweighed the risks, Flannelly said.

President commissioner Steve Chronister, who's a real estate developer in his personal time, said the county has already paid for the building through previous leases so there has been a net gain in "quite a few million" from the property.

The building is a focal point on the city's Continental Square, and the project will be good for the redevelopment momentum building in the city, he said.

"If you build it, they will come. I truly believe that's what's going to happen," he said.

Yohn is based in York and accountable for the money and the success of the project, Chronister said.

Yohn did not return calls for comment about further details about the project.

Tenants currently under lease in the 150,000 square foot mixed-use building, which sits prominently on Continental Square, include PNC Bank, Subway, and a small retailer.

York County assumed management the building last year after default by a limited-liability company for which the county was holding a mortgage.

The county owned the building and held meetings there until 2002, when a deal was inked to sell the property to an LLC in New York.

Yohn is also the developer behind York City's Monarch Mills Condominiums, for which crews created loft-style condos in the former Monarch Silk Mill, and Linden Lofts, another residential conversion of former industrial and commercial complex.

— Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.