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York officials ask potential developers of Citizens Bank building to demonstrate support

York City leaders are excited to have a possible project in line for the vacant Citizens Bank building in Continental Square – a nightclub and entertainment venue.

But they’re also concerned that the plan could have a major impact on downtown traffic and about the number of late-night visitors it might mean.

So the bank building’s owner, the York City Redevelopment Authority, is taking the unusual step of asking downtown leaders to give their thoughts on the possible venue.

The Redevelopment Authority wants the possible bank-building developers, Sean and Matt Landis, to secure the written support of three entities with a stake in downtown York’s future.

The three are the York City administration, the city betterment organization Downtown Inc and Better York, a revitalization organization comprised of business and nonprofit leaders.

The plan for the bank building, in the northeast quadrant of the square, is large enough that the would-be developers “need the support of all of the community stakeholders behind it, to make sure it’s not going to be an adverse impact on the (positive) movement and the trend of downtown,” said Shilvosky Buffaloe, York City’s interim director of economic and community development.

The Redevelopment Authority gave the Landises until June 20 to study the three-floor building, which has been vacant since closing as a bank nearly five years ago, to see if it would be suitable for their plan.

The authority bought the building for $515,000 in 2014. The former bank is dominated by its main lobby, which takes up nearly half of the building.

The Landises are partners in Fat Daddy’s Nightclub, a popular night spot on East Market Street in Springettsbury Township, east of York. Buffaloe said the developers have said they are planning a music and entertainment spot on the order of Lancaster’s popular Tellus360, an Irish pub and music venue.

Buffaloe noted how Lancaster has successful venues like Tellus360, which is on East King Street, the Chameleon Club on Water Street and the Ware Center on Prince Street, which hosts concerts and events.

“It would be great to try to replicate some of that success here in our market as well,” Buffaloe said.

Efforts to reach Sean Landis in recent weeks have not been successful.

Buffaloe said the Landis brothers “are astute businessmen, and they’re very excited about the opportunity to come into the market and have a higher-scale version of what they currently do.”

Downtown Inc, which organizes York’s successful First Friday monthly business promotion and provides other assistance to city merchants, plans to meet next week with the Landis brothers to hear about their plans, the organization’s top official said Tuesday.

“The building is one of the most prominent business locations in the entire county, and we want to make sure whatever business locates there is going to add to downtown’s momentum in a positive way,” said Silas Chamberlin, Downtown Inc’s CEO.

Chamberlin said he and others from his organization will consider how the project makes use of both the bank and the building’s office space, what the effect will be on parking and whether there are any plans to alter the building façade.

And with all of the new residential development in downtown York, including the new apartments in the One Market West building in the square’s northwest corner, Downtown Inc also wants “to make sure any proposed use does not adversely affect downtown residents with sound or late-night activity,” Chamberlin continued.

A spot like Tellus360 would be great to replicate in downtown York, Chamberlin added: “Ultimately, the goal is to have a business in the building that can be an anchor for the square and activate the space, especially in the evenings.”

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at doconnor@cpbj.com.

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