York’s redevelopment authority is weighing plans to briefly take ownership of the city’s oldest market, Penn Market, to help it get more government funds for renovations, a city official said.
The city’s Redevelopment Authority next week is to consider a measure to temporarily assume ownership of the struggling indoor farmers market on West Market Street.
As a “quasi-governmental entity,” it would be able to seek more government money for improvements at the market, Shilvosky Buffaloe, York City’s interim director of economic and community development, said Friday.
“Our intention is not to hold this property long-term,” Buffaloe said. “We’re able to garner probably a little more favor and support by virtue of our standing as a quasi-governmental entity, rather than a for-profit business.”
Within the last few years, Penn Market has used grant funds to install a new roof and handicapped-accessible bathrooms, but more work needs to be done to help make the market viable, Buffaloe explained.
Opened in 1866, Penn Market in recent years has had to overcome hurdles ranging from a large number of vacant stands and the lack of locally grown produce to the perception by some people that downtown York and the market’s environs are dangerous.
Penn Market leaders emphasize that’s not the case, but concede the market could use more standholders and publicity.
Penn Market had shortened its name from the old, unwieldy Market & Penn Farmers’ Market to its current name in late 2015.
York’s more popular and well-known Central Market was able to go through a “complete transformation” in recent years, Buffaloe said. “Penn Market did some of those things, but not to the complete finish that Central Market did.”
York City leaders also want to have a study done to see how Penn Market can reposition itself as a top local attraction.
York Central Market has “a lot of amenities that … make it an attractive place to shop and dine at,” Buffaloe added. “We want Penn Market to have that same opportunity, so we can continue to operate it for another 150 years.”
The possible switch of Penn Market to city ownership is on the agenda for this coming Wednesday’s Redevelopment Authority meeting. The authority meets at 4 p.m. at York City Hall, 101 S. George St.