With the developers of York’s Royal Square leading the way, several major renovation efforts are expected to bring new shops and apartments to Market Street in downtown York.
The effort is expected to lead to 124 apartments, 36 of them by the Royal Square developers, who also are planning nearly a half a football field of retail space over the next year.
The first of the four buildings to be renovated is York’s former Police Heritage Museum, at 54 W. Market St. A new pinball/video entertainment center, the TimeLine Arcade, is to open there next Friday, April 15.
The three other buildings are set to be completed in stages through summer 2017.
Developer Dylan Bauer said this week that the combination of public and private development, and the overwhelming amount of community support, makes the combined projects “the largest revitalization effort downtown York has seen in over 50 years.”
Bauer is vice president of Royal Square Development and Construction (RSDC), which in recent years has been completing projects outside of Royal Square.
Royal Square, which took root in 2012, is the residential/business/arts district bounded by York’s King, Queen, Duke and Princess streets. RSDC received an $8.75 million tax credit allocation from Community First Fund last July to renovate buildings in York’s Market District. The district is formerly home of York’s “Department Store Row.”
– The Zakies Nightclub building, 25-27 W. Market St., 12,000 square feet, consisting of a 3,000-square-foot restaurant/bar and six market-rate apartments. Work is expected to start in October and be completed by next spring, Bauer said.
– The former F.W. Woolworth Department Store, 44-50 W. Market St., 30,000 square feet, that will include two 1,250-square-foot retail spaces, 21 market-rate apartments and 26 parking spaces. It is to begin in June and be completed by summer 2017.
– The old police museum, 54 W. Market St., 7,000 square feet that will house TimeLine Arcade. TimeLine will “single-handedly change the block” and bring a lot of people to downtown York, said Bauer, who has already had discussions about parking for buses transporting TimeLine visitors from as far away as Philadelphia.
— The old Weinbrom Jewelers building, 56 W. Market St., 15,000 square feet. Demolition of the interior is to start around May 1, and construction should conclude by this coming winter, Bauer said. After renovation, the building will have a corner restaurant, eight apartments and six retail spaces along South Beaver Street, he said.
Along with what Royal Square is doing, other developers such as Distinct Properties, Yohn Property Management and Derek Dilks of York Redevelopment Associates have projects planned in downtown York. Among all of the developers, 124 apartments are planned for delivery over the next 18 months, Bauer said.
Perhaps the most anticipated is developer David Yohn’s One West, which will bring 15 apartments to York’s main square by early this coming summer, with 35 more to follow.
Bauer said other developers are telling him that “before they even get a chance to hang sheetrock, they’re accepting applications (for apartments). It’s a good testament to where the market’s at” in York, he said.
Sources of demand
Two groups are driving the current demand for residential space in downtown York, the 30-year-old Bauer noted – millennials and empty-nesters.
The younger group has “graduated school, they don’t want to own, they get married later and have kids later, they have more expendable income for a longer period of time, and they want to live in an urban market,” he said
Empty-nesters, or “the baby boomers who have what I call the ‘McMansion Syndrome,’ they want to get out, they want to sell their big house, move down to a city where it’s more comfortable, and simplify and enjoy life,” Bauer said.
Most of the current units in downtown York are apartments, he noted.
While there is a demand for condos, “the supply isn’t there, and what is there is not what people are looking for,” he said, adding that people may want things like more space than what is offered in a typical downtown condo.
Officials with the York economic and cultural improvement organization Downtown Inc are “very excited about the energy that the Market Street Revitalization Project will bring” to West Market, Meagan Feeser said.
“Timeline Arcade and the future developments will fit in wonderfully” with a number of other completed or planned improvements, added Feeser, who is Downtown Inc’s marketing director.