UPDATE: Residents express mixed feelings over proposed downtown York music club

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch
The old Citizens Bank building at 1 N. George St. in York City.

Some York City residents said a proposed music venue, called The Treasury, would revitalize the downtown district and benefit the arts community. Others said it could be a residential nuisance. 

Mixed feelings were expressed over giving the potential club a liquor license during a York City Council public hearing on Tuesday, March 19. About 10 residents spoke out in favor of the venue opening up in the former Citizens Bank building on Continental Square, while about five expressed potential concerns over noise and security. 

Council members unanimously approved an extension of time to act on the proposed liquor license transfer during a meeting held directly after the public hearing. City Council President Henry Nixon said all resident comments will be taken into consideration. 

The plan would see Matt and Sean Landis, brothers who own Fat Daddy's nightclub in Springettsbury Township, open a late-night music venue at 1 N. George St. The Landis brothers are in the process of purchasing the former Citizens Bank building for $450,000 from the Redevelopment Authority Board. 

A rendering of the band room in the proposed music venue club (Photo courtesy of Matt and Sean Landis).

Noise: Some residents who live close to the building fear it will be noisy when large groups of people exit around 2 a.m., based on public hearing testimonies. 

The Landis brothers said noise abatement has been a key consideration throughout the project's planning and design phases. 

"Similar to other performance venues in the community, The Treasury will have an extensive investment in sound-engineering technology to deliver a comfortable and enjoyable experience inside and outside," developers said in an email. 

Blanda Nace, the former director of strategic development at the York County Economic Alliance and candidate for the York County Board of Commissioners, said he is "probably the fourth closest resident" to the building — and he is in favor of the venue.  

Nace said he enjoys the noise, because it's "part of the excitement of living in an urban environment." 

Nace also said some of the concerns are simply stereotyping the unknown, adding that many opposed to the club have never even been to the Landises' other establishment. 

City resident Joe Stein said he saw residents try similar "scare tactics" when he was on the planning commission board: residents who are "cautious of unintended consequences."

"Those residents expect the worst out of anything they are not comfortable with," he said. 

Stein said it is wrong to punish developers based on speculations, adding that it's not the council's job to dictate what type of entertainment residents may desire. 

"Prime space in Continental Square has been vacant for too long; even when many storefronts were occupied, they were (closed) after 5 p.m.," Stein said. 

Some residents expressed concern over security.

Springettsbury Township Police Sgt. Brian Wilbur has said that the Landis brothers are cooperative with police. 

Scott Harner said he's been to Fat Daddy's many times and "never had a bad experience." 

"I've never felt unsafe or seen a fight," he said. 

Plan: The Landises' plan for the Continental Square venue is self-described as more upscale than Fat Daddy's. It would offer dinner and lunch as well as have a rooftop bar. 

A rendering of a rooftop bar at a proposed nightclub in downtown York (Photo courtesy of Matt and Sean Landis).

Harner said that while the breweries in York City are nice, people tend to have a beer and go home. The proposed venue would give people a reason to stay downtown longer, he said. 

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In addition to revitalizing nightlife, some residents said the proposed venue would be resource to help the arts in the city.

Developers said they are collaborating with the Weary Arts Group and York College to explore ways to use The Treasury as a venue for community rehearsal space, live performances and internships.

"The Landis family has a long history of community collaboration and giving back, so we’re very excited to continue our commitment to giving back with the use of this new venue as a platform for engaging our local community in a variety of ways," they said. 

Shawn Young, director of music industry and recording technology at York College, said the proposed building is the perfect spot for the venue, based on size and location. 

It also would be an opportunity to provide a pipeline for students to have internships in the music business and hospitality industries, he said. Student bands would get good experience, he said. 

Warkenda Williams-Casey, a ballet teacher, said she specifically moved from the county to the city to be part of the community and surround herself with the students she teaches. 

"I walk to the market. I walk to the library. I know the people on the street. I high-five the people (at) the YMCA. My church is on West Market, as well," she said. "I am part of York City."

Williams-Casey said the venue is essential to "keeping the arts alive for the next generation." It would supply a place for young artists to present their art, in a "beautiful building." 

Williams-Casey said York is lacking arts venues that are open past 5 p.m., similar to what is offered in Lancaster, Baltimore and Harrisburg. 

"But we can change that," she said. "And not only change that to make more people come into York City, but also make it a thriving place for the children as well."

— Rebecca Klar can be reached at rklar@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter @RebeccaKlar_.