The older Central Market gets, the more it will resemble its original form.
Contractors are set to begin the second phase of a renovation effort that aims to buff up parts of its 124-year history and rebuild the rest.
While energy sources may be updated with modern, ecofriendly materials, the bones and muscle of York's historic market will be a throwback to its 19th century roots.
"We are modernizing our systems while highlighting the building's historical beauty," said Jessica Brubaker, president of the Central Market Board of Directors. "We really want to maintain its historic integrity."
Construction will begin next week - mostly during hours when the market is closed - and be finished by January. Lancaster-based Simeral Construction will implement the $1.9 million plan designed by York-based Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects, which includes improvements to benefit both visitors and vendors.
Six new sets of doors will replace the "heavy, awkward" ones that line both the west side of the market and wing along West Philadelphia Street. The new, wooden doors will be "historically accurate" and "easier to use," said Frank Dittenhafer, president of Murphy & Dittenhafer.
Other building improvements include new lighting, new ceiling fans, a new heating system, cleaning and painting, and upgrades to the mezzanine seating area. The market-owned parking garage at 101 W. Philadelphia St. will also be improved, and the fire safety system will be upgraded.
"We're just polishing the apple. The hard work's been done," said Dale Shenk, vice president of operations at Simeral Construction.
In 2009, former Gov. Ed Rendell awarded funding to support improvements in York's Market District, but the renovation of Central Market was delayed by the economic downturn. Combined with state and federal grants, the first phase of the renovation - which modernized bathrooms, a seating area and the market's annex - was finally completed in October 2010.
Those upgrades helped define the difference between real estate development and economic development, said Eric Menzer, chair of the Downtown Inc. economic development committee and president and general manager of the Revolution.
Real estate development is about buildings, but real economic development is about commerce, creating jobs, and attracting customers and residents to the city, he said.
The real story is the business turnaround in the city spawned largely by the resurrected Market District, he said. "And Central Market is certainly an anchor if not the anchor in the Market District," he said.
And that mainstay is set to grow, according to Casi Babinchak, chief operations officer at Central Market. The renovations will create space for 12 new vendors, she said.
"Once the renovations are complete, we can do a little more recruiting," she said.
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