Developers vie for Northwest Triangle rights

Sean Philip Cotter

Four groups have put forth multi-million-dollar development plans for York City's Northwest Triangle, an area the city's shopped around to years to little avail.

The four developers pitched their cases to the city's Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday, which listened to the proposals and then voted to authorize city staff to analyze the proposals and come back to the authority with a recommendation.

The RDA plans on making a decision on the proposals by the May 18 meeting, said authority chairman David Cross.

Pitching their plans to the RDA were the Mechanicsburg-based Real Source Developers, the Baltimore-based Time Group, the East Berlin-based Aiello's Custom Homes and Tri Corner Homebuilding Solutions, which has offices in Harrisburg and Stewartstown.

All four are proposing mixed-use property of some scale, with first floors featuring restaurants or shops, leaving the upper levels of the buildings for market-rate apartments.

The Northwest Triangle is the area bounded by North Beaver Street to the east, West Gay Street to the south and the Codorus Creek to the north and west. The city's been trying to get the area ready to be developed for the better part of a decade; two years ago, a plan for a two-screen theater fell through because the developer couldn't secure funding.

Tri Corner: Tri Corner's plan would likely hold the most apartments. It comes in at about $23 million, featuring buildings stretching around part of the 100 block of West Gay Street, the entirety of the 200 block of North Beaver and another, yet-nonexistent road that would run around the northern and westerns parts of the area. In total, the development would feature 342 one- and two-bedroom apartments running from $765 to $1,495 a month, said Joshua Juffe, who's overseeing the proposal and would-be project for Tri Corner.

In addition to the 303,000 square feet of residential floor space, 24,000 square feet on the first floors of the seven buildings would be commercial, rented out to restaurants and storefronts, he said. Juffe, who lives in the York area, said he wants to try to keep this consistent with what's the city's trying to do on a broader scale.

"It's something that fits into that First Friday destination mentality," he said.

If the RDA grants their proposal, construction would start next spring and last about 5 years.

This areal view of the entire Northwest Triangle area is a rendering of Tri Corner's proposal for the Northwest Triangle. This is looking southwest over the intersection of North Beaver Street and West North Street. The road with all the cars parked on it doesn't currently exist; the wedge-shaped building at the top is the existing Keystone Color Works buidling.

Time Group: The Time Group, which is working with the York-based Murphy & Dittenhafer architecture firm, would be looking to take on the project in a couple of phases. Phase I would feature 130 to 150 market-rate one- and two-bedroom apartments costing about $700 to $1,500 a month, according to project manager Dominic Wiker. The four buildings along the west side of the 200 block of North Beaver Street would be about 124,000 square feet, with the 14,000-square-foot first-floor portion of the buildings being used as commercial space for shops or restaurants.

Phase I would cost about $17 million to $19 million, Wiker said, and would be done in a couple of years. Phase II, which would focus on the rest of the triangle land behind those buildings toward the creek, is still largely up in the air. Wiker said the group is leaning toward wanting more apartments similar to those in Phase I but plans on studying the market and seeing if there's a major demand for office space or something different.

Wiker was unwilling to speculate on costs or numbers for Phase II because the plans are so subject to change.

Wiker said his group has done similar projects in Baltimore and other cities, and the leaders were drawn to York City by the forward momentum they saw here.

"It seems like there's this real confluence of developers," he said.

Time Group's rendering of its proposal for York City's Northwest Triangle. This is looking south down the 200 block of North Beaver Street from the intersection with West North Street.

Aiello: Justin Aiello, of Aiello's Custom Homes, said his plan would feature a big, seven-story building on North Beaver Street featuring one or two floors of commercial space and then 75 or 80 apartments. Behind that, four all-residential buildings, each with 31 one- or two-bedroom units, would be built. That's a total of about 200 units.

Aiello said his apartments would run from about $1,000 to $1,600 and be more "luxury-style," made with high-end materials, and feature a swimming pool and clubhouse. The company would start work on the biggest building in the fall and would then go one building at a time over the course of several years, the York College graduate said.

"I think the rental market is in high demand now," he said.

Real Source: Hugh Simpson's Real Source Development had a somewhat different approach. He said his company wants to create about 42 apartments and gear them toward older folks. It wouldn't be a continuing-care facility or assisted living or anything like that, though, he said.

He wants to create "an attractive place to live for ... people considering downsizing after children or people who are looking for a way to simplify their lives," he said.

Though people usually think about younger folks who want to move into a city, walking-distance resources such as the baseball stadium, Central Market and the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center mean there's plenty of a draw for older generations.

"The couple of senior consultants who we’ve been working with were enamored with doing this in an urban setting rather than a suburban setting," he said.

He said the apartments would be largely the standard upscale apartment but would have minor design changes to make them more suited for senior citizens. The means higher countertops, wider doors and differently arranged bathrooms, for example, he said.

Simpson said the project would only deal with 1.25 acres of the 5-or-so-acre area; the development would cost about $8 million to $10 million, and it would run along the 200 block of North Beaver Street. The apartments would cost about $1,600 to $2,000 monthly, though those numbers are very preliminary, he said.

Real Source Developers' rendering of the company's proposal for the Northwest Triangle in York City. This is looking at the corner of North Beaver Street and West Gay Street, with the longer block being the 200 block of North Beaver Street, going north.

Color Works building: Another project is wrapping up in the Northwest Triangle, bordering the land in question. Residents can move into the Keystone Color Works building's 29 apartments at the start of May. Developer Seth Predix said Thursday that 25 of the units in the building rehabbed by him and fellow local developer Jordan Ilyes already are leased out.

Color Works building gets set for residents

The triangle area falls within the city's central business district, a 26-block portion around the middle of the city that's under the purview of Downtown Inc, a quasi-governmental hybrid between a city authority meant to revitalize the downtown area and a nonprofit organization with the same goal. Downtown Inc commissioned an independent "residential market feasibility analysis" that was published in May 2015, finding there was solid demand for rental property around the area and it would continue in coming years. Even accounting for the Color Works project and others that were also at that point in the pipeline, the report concluded there is a demand for an additional 103 rental units by 2018.

Calling the downtown area "an appealing environment that already offers a walkable urban experience," with a good mix of restaurants, shops and entertainment, the report said the area was ready for more residential expansion in the form of rental properties.

The report suggested these rental units around the downtown area would appeal to young professionals, young couples and older people, and could be less appealing to families.

— Reach Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.