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Yorktowne Hotel set to close for renovations
Downtown York will soon be without its landmark Yorktowne Hotel for up to two years once it closes Nov. 6 for extensive renovations.
Jack Kay, board chairman for the York County Industrial Development Authority, which purchased the hotel last December, announced the closure in a statement.
"Closure of the hotel has been scheduled for Nov. 6, 2016, so that our redevelopment process may go into full swing," he said in the statement. "We know that this closure will affect several events that were planned at the hotel, therefore we do have efforts in place to ensure additional assistance and support are provided to help our customers find suitable accommodations with minimal disruption. This is an important project for our community and we are anxious to get started."
The hotel, which originally opened its doors in 1925, is expected to reopen in 2018.
Mandy Arnold, a spokeswoman for the project, said the authority is working hard to provide relocation services, placing a priority on larger events previously scheduled at the Yorktowne, and has found a partner in the Wyndham Garden York in West Manchester Township.
Christina McCullough, director of sales for Wyndham Garden York, said the Yorktowne has always been a "friendly competitor."
Wyndham is honoring contracts made with the Yorktowne, which McCullough said could save some of those customers money compared to if they had originally scheduled their events at Wyndham Garden.
The company has already agreed to take on several weddings and a bus group, she added.
Arnold added that the hotel's restaurant, the Off Center Grill, will close Sept. 30, though the grill's catering services will continue until Nov. 6.
The restaurant will be opened one more time on Nov. 4 for First Friday as a sort of closeout party, Arnold said. The grill will cater the Flavors of York event during the hotel's last day.
Anne Druck, president of the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said there are plenty of other lodging options in the county to account for the closure, though the temporary loss of the Yorktowne's "incomparable" ballroom was not ideal.
"In a perfect world, (the hotel) could stay open during renovations, ... but that might leave some visitors disgruntled," Druck said. "This is short-term pain for long-term gain."
Project: The Industrial Development Authority announced in January that it planned to begin a $20 million renovation project to create a "mixed-use commercial" property, with an emphasis on creating a first-class downtown hotel.
Arnold said the authority is still awaiting final confirmation of attaining the necessary funding, but the organization is currently evaluating architectural firms. More updates will be provided as the project moves along, she added.
Tim Miller, acting executive director for Downtown Inc, said the renovations are coming at a good time.
"Year after year, the downtown is becoming stronger and more vibrant," Miller said. "One of the biggest needs we have left is high-end lodging for visitors, and it seems this project will give us that."
Miller said it might prove difficult to deal with the loss of the hotel in the meantime, but "everyone understands the payoff."
Arnold did not know how many employees would be affected by the temporary closure, referring The York Dispatch to Hersha Hospitality Management, which manages the hotel's operations.
Representatives from Hersha did not return calls for comment.