A real estate partnership that formed this summer is building a four-story apartment building in Columbia and planning to make over five buildings in downtown Lancaster representing a total investment of about $10.5 million.
They represent the first projects undertaken by Eberly Myers LLC, which is run by two brothers and a longtime friend: Benjamin Myers, development director; Brian Myers, investor relations director; and Preston Eberly, operations director.
“We’ve all been pursuing smaller projects, smaller acquisitions in real estate, either multifamily or single-family, and have done different deals together … over the last couple of years and decided that we are going to pool our energies and create Eberley Myers that has a little bit more of a refined focus,” said Benjamin Myers, who lives in Falls Church, Va. Brian Myers and Eberly both live in Lancaster County.
Their focus is residential properties, with some retail, in walkable, urban communities that appeal to young professionals, Benjamin Myers said, noting that Lancaster has become more vibrant in recent years.
“Our development goals and strategies in the future are focused primarily around urban in-fill locations where we can provide housing for young adults with interesting amenities, said Myers.
The projects in Lancaster, where rental housing has been in short supply, will result in new efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments in buildings at five locations: 38 E. Walnut St.; 105 S. Queen St.; 45 S. Prince St.; 209-211 W. King St. and 244 W. King St. Rents would run at around $900 for the efficiencies and $1,000 for the one-bedrooms, a level Myers said would be competitive.
“We want to increase the energy within the neighborhood without significantly increasing traffic and that’s why we’re designing smaller units geared toward a young professional,” he said, adding: “It’s just a response to the lack of supply and a real focus on creating vibrant communities.”
The five Lancaster properties currently account for 37 residential units and four commercial spaces, Myers said. Over the next few years, they will be carved into 76 units, depending in part on what ultimately happens at the property they are tackling first: 38 E. Walnut.
The three-story building currently houses four residential units, Myers said. Preliminary plans call for adding onto the structure, mostly in the back, and creating 14 or 15 units overall. The partnership also plans to restore the building’s original veneer at the front.
Eberly Myers plans to meet with city officials to review their concepts and make sure the partners understand the timetables necessary to proceed to construction, Myers said. Their goal is to start leasing in late fall 2018.
Eberly Myers is looking to make similar additions to the properties at 105 S. Queen St. and 209-211 King, Myers said. The other two properties, at 45 S. Prince St. and 244 W. King St., will be renovated only. Some will have ground-level retail or other amenities, Myers said.
Overall, the company plans to spend $6.5 million once acquisition and development costs are accounted for, Myers said. Financing is coming from First Citizens Community Bank. Legal representation came from law firm Barley Snyder LLP.
The project in Columbia is farther along. The partnership recently won approval from the borough’s planning commission to build a 33-unit apartment building on the site of what is now a four-unit building at 128-134 Locust St., as well as some adjacent parcels. It will include about 3,000 square feet of first-floor retail.
The overall cost, including acquisition, demolition and construction, is about $4 million, Myers said. Financing is coming from Centric Bank.
The partners hope to begin demolition in a few weeks and to begin leasing by late fall 2018, Myers said. Vanguard Development Group Inc. in Manheim Township is their general contractor and development partner both in Columbia and in Lancaster.
In Columbia, the partners see an opportunity to create apartments that would appeal to people working in either Lancaster or York counties, Myers said. Proximity to the Susquehanna River and other outdoor amenities, like hiking trails, could add to the units’ appeal.
“We actually really like Columbia borough,” Myers said. “We think there’s a lot of value from a locational standpoint.”
As it ramps up development, the partnership is on the lookout for additional opportunities in Lancaster, Myers said.
“We’re by no means sitting on these two projects and waiting,” he said. “Development takes such a long time that you have to be continually pursuing deals as they arise.”