Keystone Kidspace set to occupy downtown Armory

David Weissman
  • Keystone Kidspace, which will offer children's educational programming, plans to open in 2019.
  • Organization will be housed in downtown York National Guard Armory, which is in the moving process.

Local entrepreneurs plan to turn the historic National Guard Armory in downtown York City into a hub for children's programming in 2019.

Jenn Tansey, gives her presentation on the Keystone Kidspace during the Fall 2016 Downtown Update meeting Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016 at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center. Keystone Kidspace will be a new initiative to create a dynamic hub for kids programming. The Project is slated to start in 2019. Amanda J. Cain photo

Jenn Tansey, co-founder of Keystone Kidspace, presented the status of the project Tuesday morning at the fall 2016 Downtown Update held at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

Tansey, who has a background in marketing and public relations, said she and fellow co-founder Jessica Brubaker, who has a background in nonprofit management, have been looking for a few years into opening a space to provide children more enriching opportunities in York County.

Keystone Kidspace, a nonprofit organization, will be a "comfortable environment that fills gaps in programming," Tansey said, adding that potential programs could focus on robotics, engineering and art.

Brubaker said the space will serve a combination of programs offered by existing organizations in the county and ones newly offered by Keystone Kidspace.

An artist's rendering of the planned Keystone Kidspace at the National Guard Armory, 369 N. George St., York City.

Programming will ultimately be built "from the audience up," meaning the organization will seek input from the community to determine what to offer, Tansey said.

The facility will be located on the east side of Codorus Creek — "The gateway to York City," Tansey said — in the current armory at 369 N. George St.

The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announced late last year that it was planning an $11 million project to build a new armory on a cross section of West Manchester and Jackson townships.

New National Guard Armory planned in York

At the time of the announcement, the plan was to begin construction in October 2016 on the 30,000-square-foot building along Stoverstown Road, with completion of the project expected in late 2018.

A department spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for an update.

The National Guard Armory in York City. (Bill Kalina - The York Dispatch)

Tansey said work on Keystone Kidspace will have to wait until completion of the new armory.

Joan Nissley, a department spokeswoman, previously said the current armory, built in 1912, is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Department of General Services, which serves as the real estate entity for the property, and they would sell it for 20 percent less than market value in exchange for accepting the historic preservation covenant.

Tansey said they plan to honor the covenant, but she could not disclose a purchasing price as details are still being discussed.

Keystone Kidspace will be funded through a combination of private and public partnerships, she said, and the city's Redevelopment Authority is handling the building purchase.

Programming will cost money through entrance and membership fees, but discounts will be provided for those with a financial need.

"We don't want admission costs to be a hurdle," Tansey said.

At the presentation, Tansey noted that the location worked well in conjunction with plans for the York Academy Regional Charter School's recently announced expansion.

York Academy plans to add high school

Dennis Baughman, the academy's CEO, spoke during the update presentation about plans for a new high school at the former Pensupreme Dairy building, also along the Codorus Creek.

The estimated $15 million renovations are expected to be complete in time to open the school in August 2018, Baughman said.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.