York City leaders: Royal Square's West Market Street project will be beneficial


"The Woolworth building is getting developed!" exclaimed York City Rep. Kevin Schreiber, who previously served as the city's director of economic and community development and witnessed several failed attempts to redevelop the long-vacant former store.

The building will be one of five large spaces Royal Square Development will soon begin redeveloping on West Market Street, thanks in part to an $8.25 million New Market Tax Credit allocated to the projects by Community First Fund.

The federal tax credit will create about $2.5 million in equity for Royal Square, according to President and CEO Josh Hankey.

At a press conference held Wednesday afternoon in front of the colorful Woolworth building, Hankey announced plans for about 36 new market-rate — not subsidized — apartments and 12 retail spaces among the five buildings, with future changes based on contracts.

Royal Square already has several letters of intent for the proposed retail spaces, Hankey said, and one signed lease by Timeline Arcade, which will move into the Police Heritage Museum.

Hankey and Schreiber spoke along with Community First President and CEO Daniel Betancourt and Shilvosky Buffaloe, interim director of York's department of economic and community development, to a crowd of about 40 people.

"York is at the tipping point (for development)," Hankey said, "and this (project) is the push it needs."

Among current plans: Woolworth — where Royal Square will be adding a new section — will have three retail spaces and 21 apartments; the Weinbrom Jewelers building will have one retail space and eight apartments; and the Zakies building will have one retail space and seven apartments, according to Hankey.

The Haines building is the other West Market Street property Royal Square will redevelop.

Among the retail spaces, Hankey is hoping for at least two restaurants, boutique stores and a men's clothing store — for which he's already received a letter of intent.

The tax credit is the largest allocation among five projects Community First is funding with $30 million in credits the U.S. Department of Treasury gave the company in June. Community First is also aiding similar community-building projects in Bethlehem, Lancaster, Harrisburg and Reading.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.