The Landis brothers are forging ahead with plans to open a new nightclub in York City, but the fate of their proposed venue hinges on the approval of a liquor license.
Matt and Sean Landis, who currently own Fat Daddy’s nightclub in Springettsbury Township, are working toward finalizing the purchase of the old Citizens Bank building at 1 N. George St. from the York City Redevelopment Authority. The price is $450,000, according to Matt Landis.
The 20,000 square-foot building, which has sat vacant on Continental Square since 2012, is the proposed location for a club the Landis brothers plan to call “The Treasury.” The total cost of the project is estimated at over $4 million, according to Matt Landis.
However, the brothers are putting a new twist on their proposal as they await word on whether they will get a liquor license. They are seeking not only to add to nightlife in York, they want their club to serve as a booster for the arts scene, Matt Landis said.
That’s why they plan to partner with Weary Arts Group, a York-based company that provides arts education and training to students in York County schools. The Landis brothers are also partnering with York College’s music industry studies program to give aspiring local musicians and artists an opportunity to gain real-world experience.
Calvin Weary, Weary Arts CEO, said he was approached by the Landis brothers several months go about the possibility of using The Treasury for his arts program.
“There is a lot of downtime at a nightclub, so it could be used for other purposes,” said Weary, who said there are few places in York where aspiring musicians can perform. He hopes The Treasury will change that.
Weary Arts currently runs a program that allows participants ages 5 and up to form rock bands. It’s popular not only among students but also former musicians who ended up in traditional careers, Weary said.
If and when the club opens, rock bands from Weary’s program would be invited to perform on stage. They also would learn about setting up a stage, working with lighting and sound and other steps that go into a music performance, he said.
In the future, the nightclub could also be used for dance performances and to showcase the fine arts, although plans for such endeavors have not been fleshed out, Weary said.
“I think they have an idea and I want to play a part in it,” Weary said.
Weary Arts won’t be the only entity digging up local acts for The Treasury.
York College’s music industry studies program also has been invited to use the club, according to Shawn Young, director of music industry studies at York College.
Each year York College students in music industry studies have the chance to play in a cover band devoted to classic rock and pop music or a tribute band that covers the music of one particular band, Young said.
Students in the rock band would be invited to perform on stage at the club, while other students in the program would be able to intern there. The internships would provide students with firsthand experience in marketing, booking, stage lighting and audio engineering, Young said.
The Treasury is still in the process of finalizing a purchase agreement with the RDA, however, and the brothers are currently awaiting approval from York City Council before obtaining a liquor license for the property.
Council’s decision is not without controversy: Council delayed its vote after city residents packed a March 19 public hearing to express both support for and concerns about the nightclub. City council has 60 days from March 19 to approve or reject the application, according to Dianna Thompson-Mitchell, York City clerk.
The Landis brothers were not at the hearing but were represented by an attorney, Erica Townes, of the Barley Snyder law firm, which has an office in York.
During the meeting, 10 residents spoke in favor of the proposed nightclub, while five shared concerns over its potential impact on quality of life and safety.
Jerri Worley said that she lives close to the building and is worried about the noise level when large crowds leave late at night.
“What are they going to do about the noise?” she said.
City resident Ellen Russel had similar concerns.
“This may negatively impact the quality of life in the city. I just don’t think this is the proper venue for a large nightclub,” she said.
In an email a week after the meeting, Matt Landis addressed residents’ concerns about the potential for excessive noise and safety issues.
“We have worked with the best designers in the market to bring a sound-engineered venue. Our team has also spent the past year fully vetting our security, safety and complete venue plan with the police department, fire department and local economic entities,’ he said.
Matt Landis said that he and his brother have also spent the past year meeting with property owners, city officials and businesses.
“As we finalize plans, we will also be finalizing adequate staffing for all positions. At this time, we cannot provide absolute numbers on the total number of employees to be hired,” Matt Landis said.
The brothers have hired York-based Core Design Group to work on the design and sound engineering and York-based Wagman Construction Inc. But their plans are on hold until the York City council votes on their liquor license application, according to Mandy Arnold, a spokesperson for the Landis brothers.
If the liquor license is approved, they will move forward with the first phase of their project, which will involve transforming the inside of the building into a casual restaurant, live performance space and dance floor, according to Matt Landis. The second phase will include renovating the rooftop for events and dining.
If the license is approved and the brothers are able to proceed with the project, they believe the venue could open by late 2019, according to Matt Landis.