York business leaders urge 'connectivity'

Jason Addy

The men and women responsible for much of downtown York City’s recent and upcoming revitalization met in the Capitol Theatre on Tuesday morning to share their progress and look toward the future.

At the Downtown Update event hosted by Downtown Inc, executives from some of the county’s top real estate and economic redevelopers celebrated their recent successes and spoke about the need to create connections within the burgeoning downtown business community.

Dylan Bauer, vice president of real estate development for RSDC, formerly Royal Square Development and Construction, laid out his company’s plans to revitalize a number of underused buildings across the city and spoke proudly of being a part of downtown York City’s recent revitalization.

By renovating the former Weinbrom building, at West Market Street and South Pershing Avenue, and the Haines building, 101 E. Market St., RSDC is helping to provide a foundation for several new retail, residential and economic hubs in the city, Bauer said.

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But with the commercial comeback experienced by many York City businesses now beginning to expand beyond downtown, developers, businesses and other entities must form partnerships and connections to ensure the recent momentum continues, Bauer and others said Tuesday.

Matt Carey, executive director of LifePath Christian Ministries, said his organization’s downtown store had 300 customers on Friday — more than the store has ever had in one day.

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Carey credited Downtown Inc’s First Friday events for the increased foot traffic and said it is now his goal to funnel those 300 customers to other downtown businesses and become a catalyst for more economic recovery.

Joan Mummert, president and CEO of the York County History Center, had similar sentiments when speaking about her organization’s plans for a historical campus on West Philadelphia Street.

By bringing all of its properties into one centralized location, the History Center could see up to a 50 percent increase in visitation, which is about 15,000 more people coming through the doors every year, Mummert said.

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If everyone is pulling in the same direction, those 15,000 visitors could also be new customers for other York City establishments, such as the Appell Center for the Performing Arts and the York Revolution, Mummert said.

Crime reduction: Downtown Inc CEO Silas Chamberlin said his organization is working to spread the efforts of the downtown business district to the city’s “micro districts,” such as Royal Square, WeCo (West of the Codorus Creek) and the Market District and urged customers, owners, city officials and all others to support York City businesses.

In the past half-decade, York City has become a better place to do business thanks to significant crime reductions, Chamberlin said.

Thirty-eight new businesses opened their doors in the city last year, while another 22 will be open by the end of May, Chamberlin said.

In 2011, before Downtown Inc “began getting very serious about public safety,” that number was just six for the year, Chamberlin told the crowd after breakfast catered by Taste Test, one of York’s newest businesses..

Since then, Downtown Inc has worked with York City Police to make the downtown area a safer and more attractive place to open and maintain a business, Chamberlin said.

Reported robberies in the downtown area have dropped 80 percent in the last six years, while assaults with firearms in downtown York City have been cut in half, Chamberlin said.

“These are the kinds of stats that we don’t often like to think about but are incredibly important because of all the progress we’ve made since 2011,” Chamberlin said.