Shopping center plan that could replace Modernaire Motel hits snag — for now

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

The shopping center proposed for the site of the Modernaire Motel along East Market Street in Springettsbury Township hit a snag — at least for now.

Developers proposed Mount Zion Commons for the area near East Market Street and Mount Zion Road with a convenience store, a multi-family residential space and some 11,000 square feet of retail space.

Bennett Williams Commercial Realty, which is promoting the development on its website, said the development is coming by the spring of 2024, but sticking points in planning could force that target to be pushed back. 

Concept drawing of the Mt. Zion Commons

The development was discussed during the township board of supervisors' April 27 meeting. Stacey MacNeal spoke on behalf of the developers about changes made to the project since the last time they came before the board. 

MacNeal told the board that the multi-family developer they were working with, which preferred a more doughnut-shaped design for multi-family units, was no longer involved with the project. The new multi-family developer preferred, she said, two separate buildings. There would be approximately 70 apartments in each building with 55% of those being one bedroom and 45% being two bedroom units.

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That new multi-family developer is supposed to be Inch & Co., a York County firm that's attached to a number of high-profile projects — from a possible warehouse near Prospect Hill Cemetery to a Spooky Nook-style athletics complex at the old Central York High School athletic fields. MacNeal referred to the company during the meeting as “our” multi-family developer. 

The Modernaire Motel in Springettsbury is seen on Tuesday, Feb.21, 2023.

Inch & Co. CEO Jeff Inch said the firm has engaged in discussions but is not directly affiliated with the project.

“We are as far away from this project as you can imagine,” he said. “It’s not our project. It’s someone else’s to be built.” 

Inch explained how the firm became part of the conversation: “They’ve obviously reached out to us and asked if we would be interested in buying these multi-family lots once they’re approved and done. We said we’d have the conversation then. Right now, we have no contract to buy them.” 

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A financial institution that was originally supposed to have a facility as part of the development is also no longer part of the plans, MacNeal told the board. 

Another sticking point of the project is the number of parking spaces that are supposed to be part of the multi-family development. Developers are looking to acquire a variance to a township ordinance that requires two parking spaces for each apartment.  

The Modernaire Motel in Springettsbury is seen on Tuesday, Feb.21, 2023.

MacNeal said in discussions with township staff, developers believe that 1½ parking spaces per apartment is enough to accommodate residents. 

The application for that variance was supposed to be addressed by the township’s Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday, but the vote on that was postponed until next month. 

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“There was so much information presented, they wanted more time to digest that information before making a decision,” Springettsbury Township manager Mark Hodgkinson said.

Current plans are to have 395 parking spaces for the entire multi-use development. The ordinance would require 499 spaces to be part of the development.