EDITORIAL: Restoring Yorktowne should be top priority
- The Yorktowne Hotel was built in 1925.
- The hotel will closed Nov. 6 for a planned $20 million renovation.
- The hotel is scheduled to reopen in 2018.
The Yorktowne Hotel has been a downtown York landmark for nearly a century.
Built in 1925, the hotel at the corner of East Market and South Duke streets has lived by the motto: “Nothing rises above the Yorktowne.”
Over the decades, the venerable 11-story facility has played host to many well-known dignitaries, from all walks of life, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Cronkite and Joe DiMaggio.
Unfortunately, the grand old hotel has become a shadow of its former self.
It's become dated and tired, even grim.
Fortunately, there's some good news on the horizon for the Yorktowne.
The York County Industrial Development Authority, which purchased the hotel for $1.8 million in late December, has announced that the hotel will close Nov. 6 for a planned $20 million renovation. The hotel is expected to reopen in 2018, although funding for the project is still awaiting final confirmation.
The closing will not come without some serious inconveniences. Several planned weddings and other events have been forced to find new venues, despite assurances from Yorktowne officials that the facility would remain open for their affairs. One soon-to-be bride said she found out about the upcoming closure in a news report.
That simply should not have happened. Anyone who has organized a wedding knows the blood, sweat and tears that go into the planning. The Yorktowne should not have accepted those bookings if there was any doubt that the hotel would not be open.
To their credit, the project officials appear to be doing their best to help folks relocate their special occasions and make the situation right.
Still, there's no doubt that the Yorktowne is in critical need of a facelift. Anne Druck, the president of the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it best: “This is short-term pain for long-term gain.”
Downtown York desperately needs a vibrant and thriving Yorktowne.
Let's hope, however, that the project will be more restoration than renovation.
The last thing York needs is another antiseptic, cookie-cutter, franchise hotel.
During its glory days, the Yorktowne was something special, something different. For many, staying at the Yorktowne or attending an event in the grand ballroom were true once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The new Yorktowne should be updated with all the modern conveniences and comforts, without losing its timeless and elegant charm.
That's a tall task, of course, but $20 million should be enough to accomplish the mission.
Then, when the restoration is complete in 2018, an old motto will be reinvigorated with fresh meaning.
“Nothing rises above the Yorktowne.”