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Developer envisions jazz club

Parts of a stucco wall have been chipped off to expose a
building’s original brick and stonework down an alley off Prince Street in Lancaster.

Parts of a stucco wall have been chipped off to expose a
building’s original brick and stonework down an alley off Prince Street in Lancaster. The path is soon expected to lead
to the main entrance of Prince Street Blues.

Over the next few months, developers plan to remove the
remaining stucco and transform the inside of the dark, dusty warehouse into a
blues and jazz nightclub. The ceiling and beams would be exposed, the brick
walls would be powerwashed and repaired, the cobwebs would be swept away, and a
stage would be erected.

Come the end of the year, Peter Catalano hopes the empty
corners of the building will be filled with the soulful sounds of emerging,
independent, regional and national jazz and blues artists. The
9,000-square-foot club is expected to be open Wednesday through Sunday.

“It’s a disaster,” Catalano said of the physical space of
the building. Catalano owns Lancaster-based Gallagher Construction Inc. “But it
could be really nice.”

The building is across from Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Catalano is working on the project with two partners, who came to him with the
idea more than two years ago. Catalano also plans a barbecue-themed restaurant
next door.

Catalano purchased the restaurant and jazz-club buildings in
April for about $650,000 from the owners of the nearby ballpark. An additional
$1.4 million will be invested to transform the space, Catalano said.

The addition of a jazz club along Prince Street would add to the list of
entertainment options available in that area, said Marshall Snively, deputy
director of the James Street Improvement District.

“We think a jazz club would do well … and the location that
he’s looking at could help that area become more of an entertainment district,”
Snively said.

Catalano is a New York
native who moved in 1995 to Lancaster
County. He moved to the
city more than four years ago.

As a result of his love of old, interesting buildings, he
found his way into real estate development three years ago. That’s when he
purchased for nearly $1 million the building along West James Street that houses Gallagher
Construction and, until recently, the James Street Improvement District.

His next purchase was a building at James and Mulberry
streets in Lancaster,
which housed a yoga business. In October, he took over ownership of Gallagher
Construction.

About three months ago, Catalano purchased for $2.2 million
the building along North Arch
Street, also in the city, that houses Cimbrian.

“It’s one of those buildings you just get a good feel from,”
he said of the 18,000-square-foot former doctor’s office, which has been
transformed into a creative space for the firm, which offers a mixture of
advertising, public relations and information-technology services.

When looking for a building to purchase, Catalano looks for
two things: a beautiful structure and an ability to profit. He has purchased
three buildings of his own and co-owns three more with partners from the city.

“He’s a great cheerleader for downtown,” Snively said of
Catalano. “He wants to see downtown more vibrant. He wants to be a part of that
… so far, his plans are to be a big part in helping downtown grow.”

The jazz-club project is the first venture in which Catalano
would be a part of opening a new business.

The idea for the jazz club stemmed from the Bessie Smith
Society at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said Patrick Deibler,
a law-school student and one of the jazz-club partners. Deibler was president
of the society from 2001 until he graduated in 2004. He created a business plan
for the jazz club and shopped the idea around to various city businesspeople
until he met Catalano.

Deibler said he was drawn to Catalano because of his
enthusiasm for the project.

“It was just one of those odd, gut instincts that if you’re
going to have this thing, he is going to be the guy you’re going to do it
with,” Deibler said.

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