Apartment building in Doctor's Row gets OK

Sean Philip Cotter

A plan to change a large blighted building in York City's Doctor's Row neighborhood into 12 apartments will move forward after the city's zoning hearing board gave it its approval Thursday night.

Local developer Yohn Property Management has its eye on the building at 462-464 W. Market St., with the aim of turning it into 12 relatively small one-bedroom apartments.

Yohn Property Management plans to change a blighted building in the 400 block of West Market Street into 12 apartments.

The city's Redevelopment Authority owns the property, which right now has the big white-on-red X signs on it, indicating that the fire department has deemed it unsound to the point where firefighters will not go inside if there's a fire.

"The building's gutted on the inside," said Holly Dekarske, the city's RDA specialist, testifying before the zoning hearing board during the body's Thursday night meeting.

She said the building was about 20,000 square feet, and the market-rate apartments would probably all be under 700 square feet. The building has an internal lot thanks to the fact that it was a car dealership many decades ago. That parking lot on the first floor would have 14 parking spaces.

"They're intended for young professionals or empty nesters," Dekarske said, explaining that those are two main demographics of people moving into downtown apartments.

Yohn, which developed the Linden Lofts and One MarketWay West, is in the process of looking into buying the property from the RDA, which manages many of the city's hundreds of vacant properties. But for the developer's project to go ahead, the building needed to be allowed to exceed the zoning code's cap on the number of apartments per acre and the number of parking spaces per apartment. For a property this size, only four apartments are allowed, and the rule is 1½ parking spaces per apartment, so that would be 18 for a 12-apartment building.

Increased development in the city's urban core over the last few years has developers eyeing several of the city's historical old big buildings that have long lain largely empty. Developers look to move dozens of apartments into these buildings, but they always run into density issues, zoning hearing board member Benjamin Michael said, noting the recent plans to turn the hulking Baker building at 232 E. Market St. into more than 40 apartments. As the board said when talking about that building a couple of months ago, Michael said the only options are to give the buildings a break in terms of zoning codes or knock them down.

Baker building plans advance despite neighbors' concerns

"The building, by its nature, is causing a density issue," he said.

The board voted unanimously to allow the building to become a multi-family dwelling with up to 12 apartments.

As was the case in the conversation regarding the Baker building, the concern that all these new apartments could put a strain on street parking also came up.

"The impact of these apartments on parking is valid," zoning board member Franklin Williams said.

Graham Will of Yohn Property Management said he expects many of the apartments to have only one occupant and therefore one car.

"People like to live alone" these days more than they used to, he said developers have found.

Ultimately, only board member Michael Miller, who disclosed before the hearing that he owns one of the properties next to this building, voted against giving the project a break on parking. That measure passed 3-1.

— Sean Cotter covers York City for The York Dispatch. Contact him atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.