York Art Association building to be seized by eminent domain for I-83 widening

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

PennDOT officials recently informed the York Art Association that it will need to relocate as part of the larger Interstate 83 widening project.

The seizure of property by eminent domain will be disruptive for the organization, which serves as a home for artists from across the county, but nonprofit officials say they're hoping to make the best of it.

"There could be a silver lining here," said Suzanne Stoltenberg, who's been active in the organization for two decades. "Why don't we do what has been kind of the dream all along: Find a bigger building and expand and make something positive of this?"

The visual arts can be an isolating experience, with many artists often spending hours alone in their studios. The York Art Association aims to be different.

The York Art Association is located at 220 S. Marshall St. in East York. Photo courtesy of York Art Association.

Artists in the space can collaborate as they feel the energy radiating off one other. Students laugh and grow together — while exhibitors proudly display their works. For Stoltenberg, this energizing, inviting haven kept her coming back year after year.

That work, however, will have to continue in a new home.

The nonprofit's longtime Springettsbury Township home will be taken by eminent domain by 2025, according to the association officials. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provided a notice in February that the building will be taken by the state as part of the ongoing efforts to expand the Interstate 83 Market Street interchange.

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The show will go on — for now — however. All classes, workshops, exhibitions and lectures will continue as scheduled as the nonprofit works to find a new space.

Susan Gebhard provides a demonstration to students at the York Art Association. Photo courtesy of York Art Association.

Stoltenberg, who serves on the association's board, said officials knew for quite some time the building could be affected. With the arrival of an official letter now, there is some relief as board members can finally start working on next steps in this process.

Eminent domain is the process by which the government takes private property and converts it into public use, as defined by Cornell Law School.

Before anything further happens, Stoltenberg said PennDOT will assess the Springettsbury Township property and submit a monetary offer to the nonprofit. Offering a "just compensation" is standard practice.

A class works on art at the York Art Association, located at 220 S. Marshall St. Photo courtesy of York Art Association.

With PennDOT's timeline, the York Art Association will be allowed to remain in their current building until the end of 2025. Meanwhile, the organization is using this time to find a new space that will not only sustain current programs but allow for new growth.

"We could find a space with two classrooms, not one," Stoltenberg said. "With two galleries, not one. And so that is our goal."

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The York Art Association was founded in 1905 and promotes the visual arts through classroom instruction, workshops, lectures and publications.

"I fully expect to be a member until my golden days," Stoltenberg said. "I can tell that they're going to pull this off and it's going to be good."

A full list of current programs can be found by visiting https://www.yorkartassociation.org/.