OP-ED: Yorktowne Hotel — for the people, by the people

Jack Kay
York County Industrial Development Authority

In 1925, the community was tasked with building a hotel, a cornerstone for downtown revitalization. In 2015, we were tasked with revitalizing the Yorktowne Hotel, to once again be a cornerstone. As with all great projects, it takes more than a village. It takes community partners, passion, volunteers and more.

Since the York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA) stepped up to this project we have turned to the community to guide it. We are a volunteer board, with a heart and a passion for the revitalization of York.  

This project is meant to be all about York:

  • We’ve partnered with Crispus Attucks and Salem Square Community Association to host hiring information sessions for contractors and provided workshops on the bidding process to guide smaller contractors through the process.
  • We’ve partnered with York College of Pennsylvania to engage their hospitality students in project-based learning in the hotel, including food safety, housekeeping, customer service and others. Now entering its third year, we’ve included marketing, business and economics students as well. This has become a model of excellence for project-based learning, and has defined an initiative to implement workforce training for future Yorktowne Hotel employees at all levels of career path.
  • We’ve partnered with the Cultural Alliance of York for an Artist Inclusion Program, to make the hotel a hub of art where the public can see a true showcase of the talent right here in our community.
  • We’ve held public information sessions, given countless tours of the hotel, and even auctioned away some of the memory-evoking pieces for you each to take home.
  • We’ve engaged a project team of GF Management, owned by York native Ken Kochenour, who will operate the hotel; our partners at Tapestry by Hilton, the brand of the hotel; locally owned Kinsley Construction, the project manager guiding the nuts and bolts of this revitalization; and our historic tax consultants to ensure we are preserving the historic elements of the hotel as we modernize it.

Together, working side-by-side, we are dedicated to this project and its success. Each time there is a decision to be made, whether budgetary or historic, we are together in guiding it.

What’s next?

This summer, you will notice windows going in and out of the hotel as they are replaced and sealed. The rear exterior of the building, formerly the parking garage, has been sealed, and interior work will continue with Harrisburg-based Jones Masonry.

We anticipate more packages going out to bid this summer and fall, including Site Improvements & Landscaping, Interior General Construction and General Trades, Interior fit-out (broken into several packages including, but not limited to, Metal Stud Framing and Drywall, Acoustic Ceilings, Tile, Resilient Flooring, Painting and Wallcovering), Installation of Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment (FF&E), Fire Protection, Mechanical (includes HVAC & Plumbing) and Electrical.

We’ve heard from contractors they’d like even more assistance in learning how to bid large scale projects such as the Yorktowne. To fulfill this need, we are launching a curriculum with HACC York this fall to give a deep dive in the how-tos, and will prepare for future magnificent projects. This eight-week program is at no cost to the business owner, and will aid in both new and existing businesses.

We continue to engage new philanthropic partners in the project, and review every opportunity with an eye towards local inclusion. Just recently the YCIDA approved the WhyFly wireless network, run by the local United Fiber & Data, to utilize the rooftop space in providing business wireless, while still allowing us to activate the roof as a public space.

We continue to listen to you, the community, and your vision for the hotel. Together, with our fully dedicated project team, we look forward to bringing the hotel back online in 2020.

— Jack Kay is chairman of the York County Industrial Development Authority.