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Fat Daddy’s owners eye downtown York City nightclub

Jason Addy
York Dispatch
  • Fat Daddy's owners Sean and Matt Landis are looking to purchase the Citizens Bank building in downtown York City.
  • The Landis brothers must decide whether to buy the property or walk away from it by December.
  • They are the third set of developers in the past year to secure an exclusive option to buy the building.

Sean and Matt Landis, owners of the Fat Daddy’s nightclub in Springettsbury Township, are hoping to take their parties to downtown York City.

The Landis brothers “bought time to do their homework” on the building, securing an exclusive six-month option to explore purchasing the former Citizens Bank building at the corner of George and Market streets, said Shilvosky Buffaloe, the city’s acting director of community and economic development.

The old Citizens Bank building at 1 N. George St. in York City.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority, which is overseen by Buffaloe’s department, has given the Landis brothers until January to do their due diligence and fully investigate the property to determine whether the building is a good fit for their plans, Buffaloe said. 

They will have to decide by the end of the year whether to buy the property or walk away, under the terms of their agreement with the RDA.

Taking a plunge: Though the Landis brothers have the exclusive right to purchase the property, York City Mayor Kim Bracey must approve the deal before the deed changes hands, Buffaloe said.

Plans for a nightclub and entertainment venue at the center of York City prompted Bracey to direct RDA officials to reach out to the downtown community about any concerns over the project, he said.

Bracey is “not trying to scuttle the success of downtown for one project, one venture, when there’s been a collective series of projects and ventures that have gotten us to this point,” Buffaloe said.

More:New developer looking at old Citizens Bank

Representatives from Better York and Downtown Inc provided RDA officials with potential concerns from downtown business, but Buffaloe said the authority is now reaching out to residents who could be affected by a nightlife venue.

He likened opening a nightclub in the heart of the city to a “polar bear plunge” challenge, in which people jump into ice-cold waters in the middle of the winter.

“There’s going to be a reaction,” Buffaloe said. “You’ll get acclimated to it, but that initial reaction needs to be really, really vetted.”

Continuing the metaphor, Buffaloe said the RDA could jump in risk “traumatic shock” by allowing the nightclub to open without any input. Or the authority can dip its feet and check the temperature before easing into the water.

“We didn’t necessarily want to have someone, at Main & Main of York County, just coming in and doing God knows what with the building,” he said, explaining the RDA’s more-hands-on approach with the downtown property.

Third time’s the charm? The Landis brothers are the third set of developers to get an exclusive option to purchase the former Citizens Bank building in the past year. 

Derek Dilks’ York Redevelopment Associates abandoned its plans to purchase the property last September, while Yohn Property Management walked away from a deal to buy the building at the end of 2016.

More:Developer drops out of 1 N. George project

Dilks planned to turn the former bank, built more than 90 years ago, into a multi-use facility that included a restaurant, a cafe and dozens of apartments, but backed out saying the “terms and timeframe of the project … are not feasible.”

Yohn Property Management intended to use the bank’s first floor for commercial space and the upper floors for apartments. 

Until the RDA sees the Landis brothers’ plans for the building, Buffaloe said he will remain “agnostic” about the Landis brothers’ plans for a nightlife venue.

Still, their plan to use the building for a single purpose “makes sense,” Buffaloe said. 

“In this instance, we have a single-purpose purchaser who wants to utilize the entire building for one economic entity,” Buffaloe said. “It makes sense, but we need to make sure that that economic entity has a benign impact on the community.”