'Eyesore': Old grain elevator near York Expo Center being demolished

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

An "eyesore" former grain elevator near the York Expo Center is being demolished, although the site's future use is unclear amid the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The property formerly owned by Manna Pro, located at 120 N. Richland Ave., has been owned by the York City Redevelopment Authority since 2015. Unable to muster up the funds itself, the RDA has now turned to a Maryland-based land developer to take over.

“It’s been an eyesore,” said Blanda Nace, executive director of the RDA. “There were failures in the rear portion of the building where the roof was collapsing. And we had some homeless people living in it as well, which was a safety issue.”

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The former Manna Pro building, 120 N. Richland Ave., is coming down. The building, owned by the York City Redevelopment Authority, has been vacant for years. Thursday, July 2, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

The RDA has opted to enter into an agreement with Matt Bupp, a York County native who now lives in Maryland and specializes in restoring blighted properties.

Initially there was interest in turning the property into a restaurant space, Bupp said, but the industry has taken such a hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic that exact plans are uncertain.

Other plans could involve a mixed-use space involving retail, he said, adding that the plans are evolving.

"It would be great if we could attract other industries and jobs into the community," Bupp said.

Just over a year ago, Gov. Tom Wolf stood in front of the property to pitch a severance tax on natural gas drilling, according to a GOP news release from five York County Republicans.

In a statement, the lawmakers used the demolition to hit Wolf for the proposed tax, a nonstarter for Republicans, citing the impact fee already implemented by the state.

“Since then, however, work has begun to tear down the blighted old mill. It is being done without a severance tax but through the private sector. All the while, York County residents reap the benefits of the impact fee to the tune of $3.5 million over the course of the past nine years," the release read.

Before the RDA acquired the property in 2015, it had been donated to the York County Agricultural Society when Manna Pro went bankrupt. Nace said he did not know when the donation was made.

Per the agreement, the city will hand the property over to Bupp in return for him covering demolition costs. The city is in the process of transferring the deed to Bupp so he can officially take ownership.

The city has previously estimated the demolition itself could cost as much as $700,000, Nace said.

Bupp, however, said his estimates differ from the city's, particularly since his team has its own equipment. He declined to specify a dollar figure.

The land developer now has two years to demolish at least what is not salvageable and renovate the site, according to the agreement. 

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.