It's back to the drawing board for an acre of land in York City's Northwest Triangle, a longtime target area for economic development and revitalization.

Plans for a two-screen movie theater near the intersection of North Beaver and North streets have fallen through.

David Cross, who chairs the city's Redevelopment Authority, said he received official word Tuesday morning that developer Penn Ketchum had decided to abandon the project.

A combination of financial issues made the project unworkable, Cross said. For example, construction costs proved higher than originally anticipated, and a recent appraisal came in too low, he said.

"We've lost probably a year and a half as a result of this," Cross said. "We go back to the drawing board."

Ketchum, who could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday, said in April that he'd nearly given up on the theater project last year because he'd struggled to secure financing.

Fulton Bank eventually agreed to lend money for the project, and Ketchum reached an agreement with the RDA on April 16 to purchase 1.16 acres for $81,200. Ketchum said he planned to build a "twin, high-end, world-class movie theater."

Disappointed: Cross said the sales agreement was never settled, however.

In an email provided by Cross, Ketchum said he is "so sorry to let you down by not being able to get the job done."

"I am a big believer in the blessings of unanswered prayers and I do have faith that there is a good reason for how this has played out (another, even better use for the land?)," Ketchum wrote.


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"With that being said, it is a very hard position to be in and I know that I am not alone in my disappointment."

Ketchum, who owns similar theaters in Lititz and Wilmington, Del., first unveiled his York plans at Mayor Kim Bracey's State of the City Address last May.

Cross said he's initiated conversations with the city's economic-development department about ways to generate more interest in the Northwest Triangle.

Developers remain interested, but the lending environment is "very challenging." That's especially true in urban areas, Cross said.

As far as the immediate impact of Ketchum's decision, Cross said the RDA will be able to market the land once reserved the theater.

"We've got to put these parcels back in the mix," he said.

- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.