In the '80s, Jamesway was the department store for the blue-collar families of York Township, Dallastown and Red Lion.
Back-to-school shopping was done in the store at Dairyland Square in the days when such an endeavor included jean jackets and Jelly bracelets.
Jamesway has been gone for decades, helped into bankruptcy by the national expansion of Wal-Mart, whose Springettsbury Township store is 25 minutes away but remains one of the closest options for former Jamesway shoppers.
With its one-time anchor sitting empty for much of the past 30 years, Jerry's Food Rite became Dairyland's main draw. Despite at least one attempt at revitalization in recent years, stores have come and gone.
The vacancy plagued York Township shopping center tops a list of several properties for which the township hopes either to attract a buyer or cut owners a tax break so they can make improvements to attract tenants.
Township manager Elizabeth Heathcote said the township is pushing to have the deteriorated, underdeveloped, or condemned properties accepted into the county LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement) program for tax abatement.
Under LERTA, the tax breaks are given as incentive to "encourage improvements, rehabilitation and new construction" at commercial properties. Property taxes on any improvements made to the
property are phased in over 10 years.
Want specific plans: The township recently took the list to a meeting of the York County Commissioners, hoping for approval.
But pre-emptive admission into the program is unusual, so while county commissioners lauded township commissioners for being "innovative" in an attempt to drive economic development, they said specific plans for each property were needed before they could grant LERTA.
Commissioners said they would be supportive of the LERTA designation if the township can produce property owners or potential buyers who wanted to make improvements.
Heathcote said she's encouraged by the potential for economic growth, but the lack of interest was part of what drove the township commissioners to create the list.
"I don't think anyone is ready to go through with any of these plans yet," she said.
Economic conditions: Now, York Township is trying to drum up interest in the properties, hoping improvements will help it rebuild a tax base that has, as in other municipalities, been slashed by the ailing economy.
"When properties are left vacant or you have an absentee landlord, they're not taken care of, and the township ends up mowing grass," she said. "The revenue streams are down; assessment appeals have cost a tremendous amount of money tax-wise. There have been hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxes reduced."
Development could bring in hundreds of jobs while improving the look of the township and, ultimately, generating more tax revenue, she said.
Jerry's Food Rite patron Melissa Knaub, 43, of Felton, said she would shop at the Dairyland more often if there were more stores.
"It would be nice," she said. "It's 25 minutes to Shrewsbury, 10 minutes to here, tops."
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @dispatchbizwiz.