The 39 West Eatery is a win for the idea of redeveloping large, hard-to-fill retail spaces in downtown York by bringing in multiple smaller vendors in food court-style layouts, stakeholders in the project said.
Public officials and business leaders cut the ribbon on the project a week ago at 39 W. Market St., just steps from where stakeholders' larger food court effort in the block foundered — at least for now — on its way to the finish line.
The original plan was at least a year in the making before the site that borders the city's Cherry Lane Park went up for sale this spring.
Mayor C. Kim Bracey congratulated the business owners and the team that brought the three-vendor 39 West to fruition and assured them the city still supports the project vision nearby at Cherry Lane.
"We'll get there," chimed in property owner Neil Katz of Maryland-based Neil A. Katz & Associates.
The working idea just up the street had included creating about six restaurant spaces and about 10 food and dry goods vendors in addition to creating indoor seating based in and around the former Market Street Saloon.
Several large spaces on the block used to be bars, restaurants and nightclubs, and they have been closed for several years. The food court-style approach, by comparison, focuses on the lunch crowd.
The 39 West project will help to prove the concept to banks for financing as well as to the new owner of the former Market Street Saloon property where the larger food court idea had been in the works, said Joe Musso, principal of York-based Musso Land Development Services.
Musso, a former York City Council president who has been involved in both projects, said the main lease holder at 39 West is Varsity Smoke Shack & Sandwiches and the business subleases to Nama Sushi and Sharon's Sweet Shop in the front of the space.
The address is in the city's Rosenmiller Building, a holding Katz kept after three of his properties went on the market this spring.
He also still has a stake in 141-147 W. Market St., where residential tenants recently started moving into the new Codorus Flats.
York-based Midor Properties is the contractor for the Codorus Flats project and Midor Property Management is the leasing agent.
Both also fill those roles at Rosenmiller, which includes 16 residential apartments, said Dora Markle, owner of Midor Property Management. One was vacant as of the ribbon cutting last week, she said.
The three Katz did decide to sell were 29-31 W. Market St., site of the former Market Street Saloon and planned hub of the larger food court idea, as well as 116-118 E. Market St. and 108-112 E. Market St.
Katz said earlier this year he could not find the local partners he sought for those properties.
A Washington, D.C.-area buyer acquired the building at Cherry Lane and the other two sites and is waiting to see how 39 West develops before deciding whether to bring a food court-style development to his building, Musso said.
At the ribbon cutting, he indicated the team was just getting started.
"We aren't going to stop until we have people living in all of these spaces above these commercial spaces," Musso said.