Plans move forward on building in York City's main square
Plans are underway to put apartments, a restaurant and a cafe into one of York City's most recognizable properties.
Developer Derek Dilks is asking York City's Revelopment Authority to let him buy and develop the old Citizens Bank property in the main square in three stages.
The plan is for 1 N. George St. — one property composed of three connected buildings, Dilks said. A phased project will allow York Redevelopment, Dilks' company, to go bit by bit with the big property on Continental Square.
First will be the structure between the big bank building and Otto's Kitchen & Cocktails on North George Street. Dilks said he hopes to buy it from the city in the next month or two, though the details, as they are for all three prospective purchases, are still to be worked out. This first building would, over the following six to eight months, be turned into a coffee-bar style cafe with a couple of apartments over it, he said.
Once those are all done, around spring 2017, the plan is to buy one of the other two structures. One is the big bank building, the corner one with the eagle over the tall stone archway. That building will be home to a restaurant, Dilks said. He said he's in the process of finding a tenant and that Rock Commercial Real Estate, the company looking for him, has had productive meetings with a few interested potential lessees.
The third structure is the building to the east of the bank. Dilks' plan is to add two floors atop that three-story building and turn it into about 20 high-end apartments, a mixture of one- and two-bedroom options.
The RDA, which owns the building, as it owns many that similarly sit vacant around the city, says the full property is assessed at $136,629. The RDA often sells properties for well below the assessed value to spur development — and to get properties back on the tax rolls.
The building's not that old, by York standards — it was built sometime around 1925, said Dilks, who specializes in adaptive reuse of historical properties. He also is working on the old Pullman building in the 200 block of North George Street, which will become 20 less-expensive apartments and a storefront.
Within the city's central-business-district zone, there's no height cap on buildings, although the structures sit within the area under the purview of the city's Historical Architecture Review Board. Any facade changes have to get the city council's approval, normally at the recommendation of that board.
Dilks said there's no parking lot with the property, and there's no requirement in the central business district that he provide parking. But he said buying or leasing from a nearby lot, or possibly from the city garage just around the corner, would be options.
Demand: Dilks' apartments are a couple of dozen of hundreds planned downtown over the next few years. Between this project, the Time Group's plans for more than 150 apartments in the Northwest Triangle, the Royal Square Development & Construction project on West Market Street, Tri Corner Homebuilding Solutions' ideas for the Baker Building, the One MarketWay West work across the square and more, there are more than 250 apartments in the works for the immediate area, as well as several new restaurants.
Dilks is mindful of that; that's one reason why he's breaking up his project — if it suddenly becomes clear the market's saturated, he won't be in way over his head.
"Everything is in cycles," he said. "We seem to be on the upside right now."
He pointed to projects such as the Color Works building as evidence that such apartments were in demand. That building's 29 high-end units filled up quickly, most leased out before the building's rehab was even finished.
"Every single apartment that’s market rate or up has leased immediately," he said. "Everything we throw up there seems to be absorbed."
Eventually, he figures, the demand for apartments will have been met. But until that point, it makes sense to keep going, Dilks said.
"We’re building for the market, and the market’s telling us there’s demand," he said.