EDITORIAL: New life for downtown York
Downtown York is getting a facelift.
In the past month, several new projects for the downtown area have been announced, including:
- The Landmark Properties Project, which will transform 101 E. Market St. and 335-351 W. Market St., using a $7 million federal tax credit to create more retail space and low- and moderate-income housing for the area.
- An $800,000 project by the York County Library System to repair the brownstone at 153 E. Market St., which is attached to Martin Library.
- Fresh plans for 205 S. George St., the former Cobblestone's, to create a new spot for a restaurant or nightclub.
Additionally, work will begin soon on The Yorktowne Hotel, where an auction in May will sell off furniture, paintings and more before a complete renovation of the historic hotel begins in earnest.
All of these places have been looking the worse for wear. At 101 E. Market St., a seasonal tax office has been the main occupant for years. At 335-351 W. Market, The York Emporium has a wonderful store for spending hours browsing through books, but the rest of the property is in disrepair.
RSDC, formerly Royal Square Development and Construction, is taking on the Landmark Properties Project to update those buildings. It also is the new owner of the former Cobblestone's building, and president and CEO Josh Hankey raved about the possibilities for the former ballroom there, with its 6,000 feet of two-story open space surrounded by second-floor balconies.
“With the growing revitalization that’s happening in our downtown, it is important to make sure that buildings like that get into the hands of the right operator that can turn it into another great attraction for York City,” Hankey said.
The work also will help rebuild York's signature look, he said.
“Not only is it a building that’s in terrible shape and falling down, it will turn into a positive piece of the vibrant architectural fabric of our city,” Hankey said, referring to the West Market Street property.
York has long reused its signature historic architecture, from the former department store that is now the county's administration building to the work completed a decade ago at Martin Library that connected the main library building to the historic brownstone next door with a soaring atrium.
The new work at the brownstone will repair and replace, stone by stone, the facade of the building and repair and winterize windows and woodwork in the building that is now used for offices and meeting spaces, officials for the library system said.
At the Yorktowne, 48 E. Market St., owner York County Industrial Development Authority is in the midst of a $20 million project to renovate the hotel, with half of the money coming from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the state. The art deco building has been a landmark in the city since it was built in the 1920s, and the renovations should return some of its former glory after the site went through a rough decade or so of financial insecurity.
Add to all this the redevelopment RSDC has led in the Royal Square area and in the first blocks of West Market Street, and York's fortunes are looking brighter all the time.
York has beautiful architecture that lends historic charm to the city. It's great to see developers and organizations bringing new life to these old buildings.