York-based Kinsley Construction plans to spend about $5 million to renovate a high-profile building into multi-tenant commercial space, relocating at least 77 workers to a blighted former plumbing supply warehouse in the city's Northwest Triangle.
The local construction giant currently leases space to LSC Design architectural firm and Carney Engineering Group in a building at 1110 E. Princess St. near Phineas Davis Elementary School, which is on the far east side of the city.
LSC president Rob Kinsley made the case for tax abatement for the project before county commissioners Wednesday. He said employees want to be closer to downtown and join the redevelopment momentum.
About 65 of his employees will be transferred to the former Thomas Somerville site, just across the street from Sovereign Bank Stadium on North George Street, he said.
Josh Carney, president of Carney Engineering, said his 12 employees will also make the move.
Some Kinsley operations will stay at the Princess Street location, and the change will give them room for growth, Kinsley said.
Renovation of the 47,000 square foot George Street building is expected to be complete by the end of the year, at which time employees will move, Kinsley said.
About 8,000 square feet will remain for lease to another yet-to-be-determined tenant in a first-floor storefront facing the heavily traveled George Street entrance, he said.
Kinsley said the downtown feel was most attractive about the Somerville building, on which renovations have already started.
Employees should be able to "walk out the door and spend money" downtown instead of having to drive to the suburbs for lunch and errands, he said.
Carney said the change has been about four years in the making, but plans were delayed when the construction market tanked during the recession.
"I love working downtown," he said. "It's great to be able to walk out to lunch as opposed to having to get in your car. And there's a growing excitement about what was going on down there."
County commissioners unanimously approved Kinsley's request to have the building entered into the LERTA program, through which the increased assessment for improvements on the building will be stretched over 10 years.
County Administrator/Chief Clerk Chuck Noll said the building is assessed at about $449,000, but the company plans to invest $5 million on renovation.
Vice president commissioner Doug Hoke said the building has been vacant for years and doesn't add anything to the community in its current state.
President commissioner Steve Chronister, who has advocated for downtown renovation, said he appreciates Kinsley's contribution.
York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans, who attended the meeting, said she was pleasantly surprised about the development and thinks the new location will inspire employees to spend more time downtown.
"It's going to be a very positive boost," she said.
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