Yorktowne Hotel sold, slated for $20M renovation

David Weissman

The York County Industrial Development Authority announced Tuesday morning that it has finalized the purchase of the historic Yorktowne Hotel, which is now slated for a $20 million renovation.

York County Industrial Development Authority Chairman Jack Kay stands by posters showing examples of his organization's projects during a press conference at the Yorktowne Hotel Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016. The YCIDA announced that it finalized the purchase of the hotel and is planning a $20 million renovation for the city landmark. (Bill Kalina - The York Dispatch)

The authority, which also owns the York Revolution's PeoplesBank Stadium, initially sought to play the role of interested observer when the hotel's previous owner, Starwood Property Trust, put the property on the market, according to chairman Jack Kay.The authority, a government entity that focuses on redevelopment projects in the county, said there are no planned disruptions of service at the downtown York City landmark while it spends the next six months developing its plan.

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"We saw some potential buyers that concerned us, (and) we made the decision we needed to become an active participant," Kay said.

The authority finalized its purchase on Dec. 18, and Kay said the property will be "mixed-use commercial" with an emphasis on creating a first-class downtown hotel. Hersha Hospitality Management will serve as interim hotel manager.

Sonia Huntzinger, executive director of Downtown Inc, said the hotel serves as a vital component in revitalization efforts as an anchor building, anchor business and connector between other efforts in the Market District and Royal Square.

"Not only is (the Yorktowne) an iconic historic treasure ... it's a critical part of the downtown fabric — obviously providing lodging for visitors, but also much needed meeting and special event spaces, and the perfect breakfast meeting place downtown," Huntzinger said in a press release. "As we build, brand, and promote our micro-districts in the Central Business District, it's important to have thriving businesses and anchor points linking them all together."

York College, which recently purchased the nearby Lafayette Club building, is also pleased with the authority's purchase of the hotel, according to John Hughes, chairman for the college's Department of Hospitality, Recreation and Sports Management.

"Now that we are soon-to-be Market Street neighbors, our experienced and dedicated students will be more readily available to seek employment and internship opportunities within the hotel," Hughes said.

York College also owns the MarketView Arts building downtown, which it bought from the authority after it had redeveloped the property. The authority similarly renovated and sold the Harley-Davidson West Campus in Springettsbury Township.

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Kay said it's too soon to tell whether the authority will look to sell the hotel after renovations or continue owning it, similarly to its arrangement with the ballpark.

In a worst-case scenario, if it's unable to raise the necessary funds to perform renovations, the authority will still own the hotel and be able to choose its next buyer, Kay said.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.