LVC health education building, Whole Plants expansion get Lebanon County RACP grants

Three Lebanon County projects were approved for $3 million total in the latest round of funding through the commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

RACP grants were awarded to:

· LVC Nursing & Interdisciplinary Health Education Facility III, Lebanon Valley College, Annville Township, $1.25 million.

This involves construction of a 37,000-square-foot building for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program and other new nursing and health programs at the college. The facility will contain multiple teaching spaces, including simulation labs, skills labs with associated exam spaces, three classrooms, a wet lab and a home health simulation area. There will also be private and open offices, meeting rooms, study areas and support spaces for faculty.

The college’s newest undergraduate major, nursing enrolled its first cohort of students this fall. Summer 2023 is the anticipated completion date for the new building.

· North Cornwall Commons, Springwood Development Partners, North Cornwall Township, $500,000.

Two phases of a construction project will be connected to an existing commercial site, and at the end the road will be handed off to North Cornwall Township. RACP money will be used for site planning; excavation; removal of topsoil and debris; installation of water, sewer and electricity; paving and concrete of curbs and sidewalks; construction of a public street and red light; and associated stormwater management facilities.

· Whole Plants Health Expansion Phase II, Whole Plants, Lebanon city, $1.25 million.

The project supports construction of two more grow rooms; an expanded workspace that will create additional capacity for staff; and an employee entrance with one-way clean room, including gowning and locker rooms and an employee break area. It will also create two additional dry rooms, an expanded vault and a loading dock facility.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lancaster City Council approves $7.4M for affordable housing

In Lancaster, nine organizations will create 85 affordable housing units and preserve 443 more through renovation, thanks to a $7.4 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation approved Nov. 22 by Lancaster City Council.

“This historic investment in affordable housing is exactly what our city needs,” Mayor Danene Sorace said in a release. “While Lancaster has seen so much progress, our path forward must include a comprehensive strategy around creating and maintaining affordable housing. Today, we are taking a big step closer to meeting the need and that is worth celebrating.”

The projects funded include:

· Chestnut Housing Corp., $550,000 for construction of eight units, and restoration and remodeling of 607-609 Rockland Ave. into affordable housing.

· Community Basics Inc., $500,000 for construction of nine units, and the building of transitional housing with supportive services at 759 Manor St. for homeless young adults and those aging out of foster care.

· Lancaster City Housing Authority, $1.05 million for rehabilitation of 270 units, and renovations including a roof replacement and new HVAC.

· Lancaster/Lebanon Habitat for Humanity, $450,000 to support seven new units, land development for owner-occupied housing at 913 Wheatland Ave. and property rehabilitation on Fremont, Poplar and St. Joseph streets.

· Partners with Purpose, $500,000 for rehabilitation of 97 units, and renovation of scattered site units.

· SACA Development Corp., $850,000 for rehabilitation of 30 units, and renovation of housing at the General Cigar Place property at 453 S. Lime St.

· SDL DEVCO LLC, $2 million for construction of 45 units, and incorporating 45 affordable units to the Stockyards project.

· Tenfold, $1 million for rehabilitation of 46 units, and renovation of the Transitional Living Center at 105 E. King St.

· YWCA Lancaster, $500,000 for construction of 16 units, and renovations to add transitional living units at YWCA’s North Lime Street headquarters.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Lancaster’s 200 block of West King undergoing façade transformation

The Lancaster City Alliance is currently working on a number of façade improvements on the 200 block of West King St. PHOTO/PROVIDED

The Lancaster City Alliance announced Thursday that five façade improvement grant projects are happening on the 200 block of West King Street, a critical block on the edge of downtown.

Since much of Lancaster city is part of the National Register of Historic Places, alliance staff and on-site contractors ensure that the historic integrity of the buildings is preserved or restored.

Improvements include:

· 209-211 W. King St. – uplighting, gooseneck storefront lighting, painting of cornice, storefront trim, entry doors and upper-floor windows.

· 221 W. King St. – same as above, and restoration of the early 20th-century storefront.

· 244 W. King St. – uplighting.

· 257 W. King St. – uplighting; painting of the façade with a multicolor paint scheme in sync with the building’s Gothic-style architecture by adopting colors from the interior of the Gothic-style Christ Lutheran Church at West King and Strawberry streets; and restoring architectural details destroyed in 1993.

· 259 W. King St. – uplighting, gooseneck storefront lighting, painting of entire façade with a multicolor paint scheme, new handrails, new storefront entry doors, decorative wood paneling below storefront windows, re-installation of transom glass above storefront windows.

“A cluster of project improvements in one block is an extraordinary opportunity for our community and is helping to ensure the successful implementation of a key recommendation of Building On Strength, the city’s economic development plan,” Marshall W. Snively, alliance president, said in a release. “The transformation of each property will enhance the neighborhood and lay the foundation for continued investment in this section of the city.” Administered by the alliance, the program focuses on restoring and refreshing property facades in underserved areas of the city. The program has completed 107 projects since 2019.

Projects are funded through donations to the alliance and neighborhood revitalization partner SoWe/Tenfold. Property owners provide a funding match.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Contractors take on a consultative role for small business clients

Exterior photo of the Dauphin County Library System’s McCormick Library. JEM Group is currently working as the owner’s construction manager on the project. PHOTO/PROVIDED

A local contractor working with the midstate’s biggest employers has access to sophisticated project plans and resources and often a history of other projects to draw from. 

When those clients are small businesses, contractors find themselves taking a more education-forward approach.  

Contractors that frequently work with small companies can be more consultative on a project and often take on more responsibility when it comes to educating a client on the contracting process, said Jessica Meyers, CEO of JEM Group, a Camp Hill-based general contractor. 

“When you are a small business, you come across these moments in time where you are growing or you have a need for space and really you are so focused on the day-to-day operation of the business that to then be thrown into the world of space design, architecture, construction costs, it’s a whole new realm,” said William Sutton, vice president of customer experience at Mechanicsburg-based general contractor, Mowery Construction. 

While it may seem obvious that a small business would have less experience with construction projects, and therefore need more guidance than large employers with designers and project managers on staff, contractors that work regularly on small business construction are well aware of the nuances. 

Focusing on the smaller projects 

At JEM, Meyers is sure to explain to her staff that the process of building a new building is especially significant for some clients.  

“Getting the loan, getting the financing. Often times that’s a very stressful process,” said Meyers. “You have to meet them where they are. Being mindful of how big of a deal this is for them- that can really make a difference to your customer.” 

Meyers went on to say that choosing the right contractor can be particularly difficult for a small business, seeing as though they need to find a firm where their project won’t get lost in the shuffle of larger projects. 

For some contractors, the value proposition of working on a $100,000 project may simply not be a good fit for their structure. Ephrata-based Benchmark Construction primarily works with larger employers, so if they are working on a smaller project, it is often for a repeat client they have a longstanding relationship with. 

“We have done small business projects, it’s not that we aren’t interested in that kind of work, it’s just that sometimes they tend to be smaller contract values and we are a company that is set up for taking larger projects,” said Stuart Smith, vice president of market growth at Benchmark. 

Mowery’s smaller projects tend to take the form of everything from senior living cottage renovations to industrial warehouse upgrades and office renovations. For those smaller projects, the company has formed a special projects division that allows it to complete simple, smaller projects separately from its more complex, time and resource heavy builds. 

The special projects group also allows Mowery to introduce itself to clients in a less risky way, according to Sutton, opening the company up for larger projects in the future. 

“The special projects group is dedicated to smaller projects. We classify that as a million or under and we have a team dedicated to that,” said Sutton. “We have a robust field staff of carpenters and laborers that can do hands-on work in the field for us. We can expedite projects because it’s out our own field staff.” 

Mowery provided design and build services for the Humane Society of Harrisburg’s 900 square foot clinic. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Educating a client 

The education piece of working with a small business includes helping that business stay in the confines of their budget. According to Meyers, that could include figuring out that a company may not be able to afford an addition, but could instead fit something into a smaller footprint. 

“We try to make sure that we identify the cost as early as possible,” she said. “90% of the time they aren’t doing this with cash. They are going for financing and need the exact number to take to the bank.” 

A client may also simply not be able to visualize what they need. Someone may know they need 10,000 square feet, but don’t have a grasp on what they will need from a design perspective, said Sutton. 

“We have a hands on approach for small businesses,” he said. “Explaining the process, supporting and educating them on ways to save money, making their space more efficient and navigating the construction process.” 

An employer may also not be aware of the entire process, such as securing permits and approvals from municipalities, said Smith. This can be particularly true since an owner is likely to look at their contractor as a partner on the project. 

The current pent-up demand for projects as well as higher cost and wait times for materials can also be a surprise to businesses outside of the construction industry. Lead times for doors and doorframes alone can delay a project for up to six months, according to Smith. 

“Our preconstruction team is immediately looking for long lead items,” he said. “Things that have to be purchased soon so we don’t have to delay the start of construction.” 

Central Pa., Lehigh Valley airport projects get state money 

Five airports in central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley were among the recipients of $10 million total in state investments, announced Monday by Gov. Tom Wolf, through the Aviation Transportation Assistance Program. 

Overall, funds were earmarked for 12 projects at 10 airports. 

“Aviation plays a vital role in keeping our state’s economy moving,” Wolf said in a release. “These investments will help Pennsylvania’s airports operate safely, expand to meet current demands, and sustain growth well into the future.” 

Approved aviation projects included: 

  • Berks County, Reading Regional/Carl A. Spaatz Field – $3 million for air operations hangar complex infrastructure to accommodate the growth of an existing airport tenant.
  • Cumberland County, Carlisle Airport – $524,000 for design and construction of a terminal building to further continued economic development.
  • Lancaster County, Lancaster Airport – $750,000 to complete corporate hangar infrastructure to accommodate the growth of an existing airport tenant and provide space for a new operation relocating there.
  • Lehigh County, Lehigh Valley International Airport – $1.76 million to continue terminal connector and security checkpoint expansion and to enhance terminal commercial development connectivity.
  • York County, Capital City Airport – $150,000 for rehabilitation of airfield hangar roofs and structural reinforcement to repair rusted sheeting.

York Rotary launches next round of community grants 

The Rotary Club of York and the York Rotary Charitable Endowment Fund have opened the 2022 round of their community grants, ranging from $2,500 to $15,000. 

A total of $40,000 this year will be awarded to projects or programs taking place July 1, 2022, to June 31, 2023, that align with Rotary International’s focus on our world’s most persistent issues, a release said. 

The fields of interest chosen for 2022, with examples, are: 

  1. Economic development (growing local economies)
  • Programs and projects helping low-income families achieve lasting financial security, or promoting equal economic opportunities.
  • Events designed to draw people to a community and increase financial impact to the local economy.
  • Educational programs in job training or that help residents start businesses.
  1. Peace (promoting peace and social justice)
  • Programs and projects designed to reduce violence/crime.
  • Events to bring people together to promote peaceful dialogue and address community divides.
  • Educational programs promoting peaceful resolution to conflict.
  • Programs, projects and events to promote equal rights and equitable opportunities for all York residents.

Letters of Interest by York County-based nonprofits can now be submitted for projects and programs that meet these two areas until 5 p.m. April 8. Full grant guidelines and online letter of Interest applications can be found at yorkrotary.org/page/york-rotary-grants. 

York Water Co. sees increased revenue in 2021 

York Water Co. reported 2021 operating revenue of $55.12 million, up from $53.85 million the year before. 

The $1.27 million increase was primarily due to utilization of the Distribution System Improvement Charge – a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission-allowed charge that water utilities collect from customers for the replacement of aging infrastructure – and an expanding customer base. 

The rise in revenue was partially offset by higher operation and maintenance expenses and depreciation, a release noted. 

Last year, York Water invested $34.4 million in capital projects. It also invested $12 million to acquire West Manheim Township wastewater collection system, adding approximately 1,800 new wastewater customers. In 2021, the utility replaced about 61,000 feet of pipe to improve its distribution system, reduce ongoing expenses and improve customer service. 

President and CEO JT Hand, who announced the annual results, said in the release that York Water plans to invest approximately $44 million in 2022 and $50 million in 2023 – not counting acquisitions – for main extensions, dam improvements, an elevated water tank, water treatment plant construction, and improvements to pipes, service lines and other facilities. 

Lancaster façade improvement grants improve building stock, partners with area businesses 

A building at 120 East Filbert St. in Lancaster receives updates to its façade. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Since 2019, Lancaster City Alliance’s Façade Improvement Grant Program has provided $600,000 in grant funding to homeowners, small business owners and residential landowners to improve the façades of Lancaster’s building stock. 

This month, Lancaster City Alliance funded its 100th project through the program with the funding of up-lighting fixtures for the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church at the intersection of Strawberry, Manor and West King streets in Lancaster. 

The up-lighting fixtures are expected to highlight the church, which acts as a doorway to Lancaster’s downtown and SouthWest (SoWe) neighborhood. 

The program has become an important tool in increasing neighborhood pride and creating an attractive environment in key locations outside of Lancaster’s downtown, said Jeremy Young, director of community and economic development at Lancaster City Alliance. 

Recipients of the grant receive up to a $5,000 match on repairs to the front of their building, such as masonry repairs, new railings, painting and more. Since its founding, the program has focused on commercial hubs in Southern Lancaster such as West King, Manor, South Prince and South Queen streets as well as Columbia Avenue. 

“Each property that is transformed provides the foundation to further enhance our community and provide more opportunity for everyone to share in the city’s success,” said Young. “It fits with our mission of wanting to see a Lancaster that flourishes for everyone.” 

The program began as an effort to duplicate the revitalization that had already begun in the northern half of Lancaster city to areas that hadn’t yet seen that kind of investment. 

Impacting businesses 

Lancaster City Alliance looked at private dollars to make that a reality and found a partner in the High Foundation which gave an initial $75,000 toward the fund. Additional funders for the program today include BB&T now Truist, the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and Tenfold. 

Lancaster City Alliance’s Façade Improvement Grant Program recently helped the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lancaster purchase up-lighting fixtures. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Those investments have now totaled $600,000 in grant funding. Counting the match paid by recipients of the grant, investments in the city’s façades through the program are over $1.25 million. 

“This really is a private-public partnership, and it wouldn’t be possible without the funders. Lancaster has a tremendous reputation for its collaborative nature. It’s responsible for the success we’ve seen.” said Marshall Snively, president of Lancaster City Alliance. 

Along with the impact the program has on the aesthetics of Lancaster’s building stock, it also has had a positive impact on contractors in the area, 70 of which have worked on the 100 façade projects. 

So far recipients of the program have hired 21 contractors based in the city, 12 person-of-color owned contracting businesses and five women-owned contracting businesses. 

“Something we are proud about regarding our program is that we have had the ability to work with a large number of contractors, many of whom are city-based businesses,” said Young. “We have had the ability to be really inclusive in working with BIPOC-owned contracting businesses and LGBTQA+ contracting businesses.” 

One goal of the program that the alliance would like to see get more traction was a workforce development segment of the program, said Snively. 

“At the beginning of this program we were hopeful that this would be more of a workforce development program,” he said. “We developed the program with the goal of not only using local contractors but using it as an opportunity to employ residents and trainees to assist and potentially work for larger contractors.” 

Snively said that training neighborhood residents to help with the project was a challenge during the pandemic, adding that while the alliance did place dome folks, that end of the program was very challenging. 

“While this program was still a major success, we do think there is still opportunity down the road for this to not only enhance neighborhoods but be a workforce development program as well,” he said. 

Making the program accessible 

A key piece of the program, according to Young, is that it is not just open to residential landowners and small business owners but can also be accessed by homeowners so they can build equity in their properties. 

To ensure that the program’s grant match isn’t a barrier, recipients of the grant can pay a 10% match if they meet certain requirements. Recipients can also leverage other programs, like Lancaster’s led abatement program, to act as the match for the façade program. 

Demand for the project has been high across the city with many property owners now on a waiting list. Snively said that the nonprofit has yet to approach other areas because they don’t want people to be excited for a program that doesn’t exist yet, but they are aware of the high demand. 

Looking toward the coming year, the focus for the program will be to secure funding first and foremost, said Young. 

“We have the model right in terms of how the program works and we have found efficiencies and ways to streamline it. For us it’s a matter of funding it again and ensuring that it can continue,” he said. “Looking at other corridors and neighborhoods we haven’t grown into would be a goal from our perspective and continuing how to be creative about leveraging those funds.” 


Industrial properties see continued high demand in Lancaster, York

A record-breaking 4 million-plus square feet of industrial space was leased in York County in 2021, according to a new report.

That’s among the highlights of Rock Commercial Real Estate’s latest quarterly update covering York and Lancaster counties. The industrial segment continues to boom as the office and retail segments hold their own while still adjusting to the COVID-19 economy.


Kevin Hodge, a brokerage adviser with Rock, said the York industrial sector “is just screaming hot right now.”

He recently got a three-year lease commitment for 60,000 square feet of space within a day of the first call. “That’s kind of the way the market is” at the moment, Hodge said.

The 4,101,266 square feet leased last year was 135% more than in 2020 and 24% greater than in pre-pandemic 2019. Vacancy fell to a historic low of 2.86%.

Absorption, or how much new space was leased, also set a yearly record of 2.6 million square feet, which is further evidence of heightened demand. A lot of that is for warehouse space but manufacturing space is sought after, too, Hodge said.

Institutional investors accounted for $190 million-plus of sales volume in the fourth quarter. “There’s just so much money in the market right now,” he said.

The report noted that 903,599 square feet of industrial space is under construction in York County (with more breaking ground since the beginning of 2022, Hodge added); industrial expansion projects accounted for 47% of that.

An additional 6 million square feet is in the proposal stage.

In the office market, leased square feet exceeded pre-pandemic levels in 2021. Absorption finished on the plus side, as more than 84,500 new square feet was leased.

Vacancy, at a five-year low, remains below 5%.

During the last three months of 2021, 50% of office sale transactions were for medical space. Lease transactions for medical uses included 5,592 square feet at 130 Leader Heights Road, York, to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

For a secondary or tertiary office market, York County is doing well, Hodge said, and he expects activity to be strong in 2022.

When it comes to the retail sector, absorption was in negative territory in the fourth quarter as the vacancy rate increased to 5.66%. However, the total square footage leased – 46,483 – did surpass 2020, and the average lease rate is up 11.7% since 2017.

Small shopping centers (four to five units) with a strong tenant mix of national retailers remain popular among investors, the report said. For example, Old Navy is to occupy 12,569 square feet at Gateway Shopping Center, Hanover, in the first quarter of this year.

Hodge said the retail market is resetting, as it deals with workforce shortages and other challenges.

“It’s still not bad number,” he said of the vacancy rate, as bricks-and-mortar businesses continue to adapt to the rise of e-commerce.


In the Lancaster County industrial market, vacancy slipped below 1.5% in the fourth quarter, while the national rate was 3.7%.

Matt Czaus, brokerage adviser with Rock Commercial Real Estate, said supply is down and demand is “through the roof.”

Lease rates are now up to $6.27 per square foot. “I haven’t seen such an increase in marketing rates for industrial space for a long time,” he said, primarily due to lack of inventory.

There are projects in the pipeline that may help alleviate that, Czaus said.

The report said 480,000 square feet of industrial space is under construction in Lancaster County and 1.7 million more is proposed, noting that “most speculation builds continue to be immediately absorbed upon completion.”

In the office market, demand for larger office space continues to decline, with the average unit size of signed leases falling from 6,463 square feet in 2017 to 2,199 square feet today.

Though the trend began prior to the pandemic, larger users are taking the opportunity to decrease their footprint in the midst of COVID-19 and start adapting to a remote workforce, Czaus said.

“They’re able to fulfill the needs of their employees with a smaller footprint,” he added. This has created a demand for lesser-sized Class A and B office spaces.

Landlords are actively trying to accommodate that trend, Czaus said.

On the retail front in Lancaster County, vacancy fell below 4% – lower than 2019 levels – as average lease rates stayed above $15 per square foot.

“Retail is steady,” Czaus said.

There’s a dialogue between tenants and landlords because two competing factors are at play, he said.

While rent increases could be difficult to handle for some tenants still affected by COVID-19, Czaus said, it’s getting harder for landlords not to raise rents as they’re dealing with higher costs due to inflation.

State agriculture department accepting proposals for wine, beer and cider projects 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is taking proposals for up to $2 million in funding for projects to increase sales, quality and production of Pennsylvania wine, beer and cider. 

Projects will be reviewed and recommended by the department’s wine marketing and research and malt and brewed beverage boards. Projects will be funded by the PA Liquor Control Board. 

“Pennsylvania’s craft beer, cider and wine industries offer not only the appeal of the local flavors and fruit that go into them, but an opportunity for an experience at a vineyard in the countryside, a cidery in an orchard or a craft brewery in any of our diverse towns and cities,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “These grants expand economic opportunities for our growers and spur innovative ideas to introduce visitors to the diversity of Pennsylvania agriculture and the beauty of our commonwealth.” 

One-page concept papers outlining the activities involved in each funded project are due by Feb. 11, 2022. Applications can be found in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. 

The new grants follow nearly $2 million that the Wolf Administration awarded to 15 projects last October. Funds were given to projects that increased the state’s cider, craft beer and wine tourism and marketing; researched how to protect the wine industry from invasive spotted lanternflies and severe weather threats; supported strategic planning to help the industry recover from the pandemic and more. 

Crispus Attucks, York, receive $19 million from the state for community improvements 

Gov. Tom Wolf has approved more than $19 million in grant funding for community development projects in York County. 

The grants are part of $54.5 million approved for 16 projects statewide. The funding will support expansion projects, provide opportunities for additional employment training, job creation and community services, the Governor said in a press release. 

The Codorus Greenway project, a York City initiative expected to create a 1.4-mile greenway between Codorus Creek and the York Heritage Rail Trail, is set to receive $10 million. 

“York residents have been dreaming of a greenspace along the Codorus Creek for more than 100 years and this project will make that dream come true,” said Wolf. “I am proud to award $10 million to help the community transform the landscape of York, make the city a hub of revitalization, and create a welcoming and safe place for residents and visitors to enjoy.” 

The funding is supported through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). The following York County organizations also received funding through RACP: 

  • Crispus Attucks York, $4 million for an African American History Museum at the vacant Crispus Attucks York-owned lots. 
  • York City, $2 million to replace heating and cooling units, upgrade stage lighting and electronic marquee, renovate and redesign the concession area for infrastructure improvements at Strand Capital Performing Arts.  
  • Spring Grove Borough, $3.2 million to renovate a former school building for the new Roth’s Church Road Community Partnership, an incoming multi-generational community hub. 

PennDOT accepting proposals for unsolicited public-private partnerships 

Privately owned businesses have until the end of the month to submit unsolicited proposals to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Office of Public-Private Partnerships (P3).

PennDOT announced on Thursday that it is accepting proposals from the private sector on innovative ways to deliver transportation projects across roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports.

The P3 office holds these proposal periods every April and October. The state’s P3 law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in delivering, maintaining, and financing transportation-related projects.

Businesses use the period to propose work on projects and infrastructure owned by the department. PennDOT’s Public Private Transportation Partnership Board can enter into a contract with the entity if the proposal would be most cost-effectively administered by a private company, according to a press release from PennDOT.

Businesses can also submit applications on more efficient models to manage existing transportation related services and programs as well as projects associated with non-PennDOT-owned assets.

The proposal period ends Oct. 31 and the next unsolicited proposal acceptance period will be held next April.

Instructions on how to submit a project and information on the unsolicited proposal review process can be found on the state’s P3 website.