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York City RDA soliciting bids for Penn Market renovation project

Maria Yohn
York Dispatch
Wednesday, July 5, 2017--The Redevelopment Authority of the City of York has taken ownership of Penn Market and plans structural and business improvements to the 150 year old market. Bill Kalina photo

The York City Redevelopment Authority is taking the next step to revitalize the historic Penn Market by soliciting bids for architectural renovations.

The RDA is requesting proposals from qualified firms or individuals to provide architectural services for the renovation project, according to a news release. The deadline for bid submissions is 4 p.m. Thursday, June 29.

The RDA expects to select an architect after that date at one of its regular board meetings, held at 4 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at City Hall.

Shilvosky Buffaloe, who oversees the York City Redevelopment Authority in his role as interim director of the city's department of community and economic development, speaks during a news conference at Penn Market announcing planned improvements to the market Friday, July 7, 2017. The RDA took ownership of the building several weeks ago. Bill Kalina photo

After 150 years, farmers market seeks renaissance

Background: Penn Market, a historical fixture of York for more than 151 years, has fallen on hard times, according to Shilvosky Buffaloe, acting director for the city's Department of Economic and Community Development.

The building infrastructure is failing, and the financial health of the market has taken a severe downturn, Buffaloe said.

This dire set of circumstances led the RDA to assume ownership of the market in June in order to obtain funding that was inaccessible to its former owners.

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The RDA immediately identified structural issues, such as a need for new windows and doors, fire-suppression systems and plumbing and bathroom upgrades.

Soon after the deed transfer, the authority announced it would be working with the staff at The Food Trust, based in Philadelphia, to identify further areas of improvement, Buffaloe said in 2017.

Since then, Buffaloe said, the RDA received an $800,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to replace the roof of the building and upgrade the building to meet the requirements set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Future goals: The RDA wants to make the market a modern, code-compliant, energy-efficient facility while maintaining its historic legacy, according to its Request for Proposal for architectural bids. 

In addition, the authority wants to lower the cost of operations and utilize the market's 23,000 square feet of indoor space to hold approximately 50 vendors.

The RFP also mentions the possible addition of public seating, an additional restroom and a restaurant that will serve as an anchor for the building.

Tentative schedule and budget:  The RDA plans to select an architect in July and move forward with the process from there.

According to the RFP, the preliminary estimated cost of the project is set at $4 million, but Buffaloe is reluctant to place a price tag on the project just yet. 

The final cost will be based on how extensive the renovations are, Buffaloe said, and the RDA will consult with the chosen architects to determine what renovations are financially practical. 

Buffaloe also plans to explore further funding options through HUD and other state and federal agencies.

"Our biggest focus right now is preserving the building and improving the aesthetic of the market for vendors and customers," Buffaloe said.