A financial advising company that's "growing like crazy" has signed a lease to occupy a prominent York City building that's sat vacant on Continental Square for at least three years.
The former Futer Bros. Jewelers building at 1-3 S. George St. will become the new home for Northwestern Mutual's York branch this fall. The company signed a six-year lease with the building's owner this week
Northwestern Mutual plans to move its 22 York-based employees into four of the building's five floors, said Brandy Shope, the company's executive director of selection in York.
The company expects the expansion to generate an additional 10 to 15 jobs, Shope said.
The building's owners spent $1.5 million several years ago to renovate the 1850 building, stripping it down to its skeleton and reconstructing two floors "to bring it back more to what it was when downtown was in its glory days," said Russ Bardolf of Rock Commercial Real Estate.
The recession stalled plans to find a suitable tenant, Bardolf said. Now, Northwestern Mutual is the right fit, he said.
"They're just younger, energetic, aggressive people who understand that location's important," he said. "They wanted to be at the hub of all that was taking place downtown."
Sonia Huntzinger, director of Downtown Inc, said this is "excellent news" for York's square, where vacant or partially vacant buildings occupy each of its four corners.
When Northwestern Mutual moves, the southeast quadrant will the only fully occupied corner, Huntzinger said.
"We're just thrilled that the floors will be occupied. And it'll put the employees there," she said. "It creates more of an activity right there. You'll see people in and out of the building."
Northwestern Mutual has had a presence in York City since 2008, located in a suite next to the Yorktowne Hotel. Business exploded and the company has outgrown its space on East Market Street, Shope said.
For now, the company will occupy all of 1-3 S. George St. except the second floor, Shope said. Long-term plans - "the big vision" - for that space are to turn it into a floor dedicated to Northwestern Mutual's college internship program, Shope said.
The company plans to work with York College and Penn State York to hire interns, she said.
Northwestern Mutual wants to "pioneer" efforts to revitalize Continental Square, Shope said.
Downtown Inc is working "very strategically" to recruit businesses into the empty buildings on Continental Square, including One MarketWay West. A chunk of that building was vacated in March when city offices moved to 101 S. George St.
Residential apartments are an option on the table, Huntzinger said.
"All of that is being sort of worked through, trying to figure out what the best use for that space would be," she said.- Erin James may also be reached at email@example.com.