Guest view: In 1925, The Yorktowne Hotel was built for the people, by the people. That still holds true for its renovation.

In 1925, the York community was tasked with building a hotel, a cornerstone for downtown revitalization. In 2015, we were tasked with revitalizing said hotel – The Yorktowne – to once again be a cornerstone. As with all great projects, it takes more than a village. It takes community partners, passion, volunteers, and more.

Since the York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA) stepped up to this project of revitalizing The Yorktowne, we have turned to the community to guide it. We are a volunteer board, with a passion for the revitalization of York.

This project is meant to be all about York:

-We’ve partnered with the Crispus Attucks Association and Salem Square Community Association to host hiring information sessions for contractors, and provided workshops on the bidding process to guide smaller contractors through the process.

-We’ve partnered with York College of Pennsylvania to engage their hospitality students in project-based learning in the hotel on topics such as food safety, housekeeping and customer service. Now entering its third year, we’ve included marketing, business and economics students in this initiative as well. This has become a model of excellence for project-based learning, as well as created a framework for workforce training for future Yorktowne Hotel employees at all career levels.

-We’ve partnered with the Cultural Alliance of York for an artist inclusion program to make the hotel a hub for local art to showcase to the public the talent right here in our community.

-We’ve held public information sessions, given countless number of tours of the hotel and even auctioned away some of the memory-evoking pieces for the public to take home.

-We’ve engaged a project team consisting of GF Management, owned by York native Ken Kochenour, who will operate the hotel; our partners at Tapestry by Hilton, the brand of the hotel; locally-owned Kinsley Construction, the project manager guiding the nuts and bolts of this revitalization; and our historic tax consultants to ensure we are preserving the historic elements of the hotel as we modernize it.

Together, working side-by-side, we are dedicated to this project and its success. Each time there is a decision to be made, whether budgetary or historic, we make it together.

What’s next?

This summer, you will notice windows going in and out of the hotel as they are replaced and sealed. The rear exterior of the building, formerly the parking garage, has been sealed, and interior work will continue with Jones Masonry based in Harrisburg.

We anticipate more packages going out to bid this summer and fall, including for site improvements and landscaping, interior general construction and general trades, interior fit-out (broken into several packages), installation of furniture, fixtures and equipment, fire protection, and mechanical and electrical.

We’ve heard from contractors they’d like even more assistance in learning how to bid large scale projects such as the Yorktowne. To fulfill this need, we are launching a curriculum with HACC York this fall to give a deep dive in the how-tos. This 8-week program is provided at no cost to business owners and will aid both new and existing businesses.

We continue to engage new philanthropic partners in the project and review every opportunity with local inclusion in mind.  Just recently the YCIDA approved the WhyFly wireless network, run by York’s own United Fiber & Data, to equip the roof of The Yorktowne for business wireless connectivity, while still allowing us to use the roof as a public space.

We continue to listen to you, the community, and your vision for the hotel. Together, with our fully dedicated project team, we look forward to bringing the hotel back online in 2020.

Jack Kay is president and CEO of Susquehanna Real Estate in York. He also is chairman of the York County Industrial Development Authority and sits on the board of directors of the York County Economic Alliance.

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