Cargas to anchor former Bulova building in Lancaster
People have called it a missing piece of downtown revitalization efforts and, in at least one case, "the ugliest building in Lancaster."
But the Bulova building - an expansive, long-vacant brick facility at 101 N. Queen St. in downtown Lancaster - might soon gain a new moniker with help from a major facelift and new cast of tenants: Cargas Systems, Starbucks, Mayita's Boutique and home decor store Domaci.
City officials and property developers announced the tenants in a brief ceremony Friday in what will become a courtyard area outside the building. Asbestos abatement work is underway inside now, with renovations expected to start around Thanksgiving.
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Pittsburgh-based Zamagias Properties bought the building at auction in early 2016. It had been vacant since 2008, when Bulova Technologies, a one-time subsidiary of the Bulova Watch Co., moved out.
Zamagias has since unveiled plans to convert the four-story building into a modernized mixed-used structure, with Cargas occupying 25,400 square feet of its more than 150,000 square feet overall.
Starbucks, Domaci, Mayita and other yet-to-be-named retailers will fill 23,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, while luxury condos with 10-foot-tall windows will take up the fourth floor. The city hopes to add parking accommodations with room for about 300 spaces.
"This building I equated to a beautiful smile with a middle tooth missing," Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray said. "That's what this does to downtown Lancaster."
Even as nearby properties grew and thrived, 101 N. Queen St. has remained stagnant and dated, said Gray, who bought his house on nearby North Prince Street exactly 45 years before Friday's announcement. Other developers offered plans over the years to revive what Gray called "the ugliest building in Lancaster," but none ever came to fruition.
Cargas CEO Chip Cargas wanted to be part of the city' revitalization. His 29-year-old business software company is bursting at the seams of its rented headquarters just south of the city andat several satellite locations.
The company plans to move all of its roughly 100 local employees to 101 N. Queen St. The building also has space for Cargas to hire an additional 120 people - something he has no immediate timeline for doing.
Construction, led by Lancaster County-based Warfel, will include stripping the brick facade from the current building and gutting all but the skeleton of the interior. Cargas hopes to move in by spring 2019.