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Royal Square plays fairy godmother to former York foundryPewtarex building to host Downtown Inc's annual Masquerade Ball

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The Fifth Annual Downtown Inc Masquerade Ball will be held at the former Pewterex foundry at 145 N. Hartley St. in York. The theme of the event is
The Fifth Annual Downtown Inc Masquerade Ball will be held at the former Pewterex foundry at 145 N. Hartley St. in York. The theme of the event is "fire and ice," paying tribute to the 54,000 square-foot building's past uses as a foundry and an ice-machine manufacturing plant. - (Photo / )

A former York city foundry is getting some elemental changes - at least temporarily.

As Downtown Inc prepares for its fifth annual Masquerade Ball on Saturday, Royal Square Development and Construction is helping the nonprofit transform the former Pewtarex facility, located at 145 N. Hartley St., into an event space. Royal Square donated the space for the event and has been undertaking extensive cleaning efforts, including removing 20 dumpsters full of metal pipe.

The Masquerade Ball is Downtown Inc’s annual fundraising event featuring dancing, tarot card reading and music courtesy of the Central City Orchestra. This year’s theme is "fire and ice," as a nod to the 54,000 square-foot building’s historic uses as both a foundry and an ice-machine manufacturing plant, said Dylan Bauer, president of development at Royal Square.

Prior to the building’s construction, the site was home to residential duplexes.

York Manufacturing Co., the forerunner to York International, built the foundry in 1907, said Bauer. At the time, the company made a variety of products, including turbines, farm machines and washing machines.

Twenty years later, the facility evolved into York Ice Machinery Corp. and began making artificial ice, which eventually transitioned to air conditioning and refrigeration, according to Bauer. In 1956, Borg-Warner purchased the company. It became York International in 1986 and was purchased in 2005 Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls for $3.2 billion.

At some point during York Ice Machinery’s evolution into York International, the company moved out of the facility and Olde Country Reproductions Inc., which did business as Pewtarex, moved in, Bauer said. Pewtarex manufactured custom metalware products from molten aluminum alloys that looked like pewter. It closed in April 2017 and Royal Square purchased the facility with goals of redevelopment in December 2017.

Royal Square offered the space - dubbed "The Foundry" - to Downtown Inc for its annual Masquerade Ball to showcase the space’s potential as a brewery, restaurant or office, said Bauer. The company wants to replicate the success it has had with buildings like The Bond, an events space on East King Street.

"While it’s a blank canvas today, The Foundry could one day anchor the western edge of Downtown York and reinvigorate the neighborhoods around it," he said.

Downtown Inc hosts the annual event at a different location each year. In the past, the organization has hosted the event at Penn Market and the former York Post Office.

Funds raised from the ball support Downtown Inc’s mission to enhance and encourage investment in York’s central business district, said Silas Chamberlin, CEO of Downtown Inc and vice president of economic and community development with the York County Economic Alliance.

"We wanted to push the limits for this milestone Masquerade Ball and choose a truly edgy and unforgettable venue. For one night, we’re taking a vacant industrial building and turning it into a gorgeous event space," Chamberlin said in a statement.

As of Monday, Downtown Inc had sold 428 tickets. Late-night tickets for access to the event from 9 to 11 p.m. are still available at downtownyorkpa.com.  

Royal Square Development and Construction purchased the former Pewterex foundry, located at 145 N. Hartley St., in York, in December 2017. The company believes the building has the same potential as The Bond, a former janitorial supply warehouse that Royal Square transformed into an event space.
Royal Square Development and Construction purchased the former Pewterex foundry, located at 145 N. Hartley St., in York, in December 2017. The company believes the building has the same potential as The Bond, a former janitorial supply warehouse that Royal Square transformed into an event space. - (Photo / )
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Emily Thurlow

Emily Thurlow

​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at ethurlow@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter @localloislane.

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