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Revitalization remakes block of East King Street in downtown Lancaster

This year, the 100 block of East King Street in downtown Lancaster will welcome a prestigious event hall and the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, bringing new life to an old area of the city.

The activity between Duke and Lime streets is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize downtown Lancaster beyond Penn Square.

The section of East King is what Marshall Snively, executive vice president and COO of the Lancaster City Alliance, described as “a great mixed-use block.”

The 100 block already is home to a bank, a florist and an alteration shop, to name a few. York-based DiCarlo’s Original Pizza opened its second location in the state at 155 E. King St. just a few weeks ago.

Other neighbors — on the first block of King Street past the square, between Queen and Duke streets — include a multipurpose venue called 26 East, which opened next to Tellus360 and Annie Bailey’s in August 2015.

Since then, the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square has announced plans for a significant expansion.

Excelsior Hall

Meanwhile, a nationally registered historic building known as Excelsior Hall will reopen in February with a shortened name — Excelsior.

Located at 125 E. King St., the Victorian-era social hall had been vacant for 40 years. It is returning to its origins as an event venue under plans crafted by owners Kelly and John Dantinne.

The 35,500-square-foot space consists of several buildings that were erected between 1852 and 1873 by brewer-businessman John A. Sprenger.

The Dantinnes are relying on a group of subcontractors for construction, which started in July 2015.

According to John Dantinne, the soft cost of the project, including costs to buy the building, is about $2.7 million.

Lancaster’s Community First Fund and EDC Finance are providing financing for the project. John Dantinne described the two organizations, as well as the city, as being incredibly pro-business.

“They made it really easy,” he said.

Chester County-based Jimmy Duffy’s Catering will be the exclusive caterer for the event space, and Shumaker PDT, a full-service event production company in Lancaster, will collaborate with Excelsior on lighting.

The location is already booked for business and nonprofit events, as well as weddings and even a high school prom, according to Kelly.

A new Lancaster Chamber

A few doors down at 115 E. King St. is the future home of the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce, which plans to relocate as early as November 2016.

The chamber has occupied another building in the city since 1988, and it announced this week that it’s time for a new look.

The building on East King Street was built in 1972, and has been vacant since its most recent tenant, EHD Advisory Services Inc., moved in April 2015.

The chamber expects to close on the building in March. Renovation plans include updating the outside structure and windows, as well as remodeling the interior.

Lancaster-based Warfel Construction will be the general contractor.

The chamber declined to share the expected cost of the project.

“What’s great about the chamber building is that it’s one of the last pieces of the puzzle to really bring that block fully to life and to reinforce that connection between downtown and the east side,” Snively said.

The move by the chamber is part of the organization’s recent decision to restructure its operations into three divisions — business solutions, community prosperity and impact investment.

The goal is to expand its membership beyond the 2,200 members it already has, and to partner with local organizations to create a business center downtown.

“We are planning to relocate to East King Street so that we are better positioned to be a county-wide business center as a result of having potential partnering organizational tenants,” said Allison Bucher, communications director for the chamber.

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