Catalytic Momentum at Queen & Vine
Exciting changes are underway at Queen & Vine streets with new development projects anchoring Downtown and connecting the city core and south Lancaster. These projects will provide new housing, dining, cultural institutions, and commercial opportunities—as well as attractive new destinations for residents, employees, and visitors. This key intersection, one block south of Penn Square, was identified as a catalytic revitalization site in the Building On Strength plan.
On the southwest corner, the historic Southern Market is currently under renovation by partners Willow Valley Communities and Lancaster Equity. The building will be converted to an urban food hall featuring 10 stalls for both established and budding restaurateurs offering multi-cultural cuisine. The facility will also feature retail/restaurant space in two storefronts on S. Queen, coworking space, and entrepreneur support from ASSETS, who will occupy second floor office space. Slated to open in late 2021, the Southern Market façade is being restored and its interior will showcase its long hidden structural beauty. When complete, Southern Market will be a new center of activity for the community. The Lancaster City Revitalization & Improvement Zone (CRIZ) Authority is providing financial support to the Southern Market project.
On the northwestern corner, Willow Valley Communities’ residential tower, named Mosaic, recently cleared key steps in the City’s land development process with the County’s largest age-qualified provider receiving permission to demolish the former Lancaster Newspapers printing facilities and to proceed with their proposed design. The tower, which will become the tallest in Lancaster County, will feature nearly 150 new age-qualified apartments and amenities with ground floor commercial space as well as a top-floor restaurant. This important project will provide critical mass and density in the core of Downtown. With an estimated completion date in 2025, Mosaic will be the first urban development by Willow Valley Communities and represents the most substantial Downtown investment in more than a decade.
Across the street and adjacent to the Lancaster County Convention Center on the northeastern corner, LancasterHistory is currently engaged in the early design and conceptual planning phase for the Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site & Museum, which is anticipated to become a national attraction drawing visitors to the City. The facility will allow visitors to explore Stevens’ legacy, including his role in the creation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and other contributions. It will also explore Smith’s role as a pioneering Black, female entrepreneur and her role in the Underground Railroad. A diverse team of scholars and museum professionals from around the country have weighed in on interpretive themes and a series of community engagement sessions are planned for this spring and summer, including a feasibility study for the fundraising campaign will commence in April 2021. Taking into consideration uncertainties with the pandemic, LancasterHistory expects to complete the project in 2023.
Economic Development with a Neighborhood Focus on South Duke
SACA Development Corporation is developing the Duke Street Plaza business center, which will involve demolition of existing buildings at S. Duke and Chesapeake Streets, including an existing bank branch and vacant grocery store. New construction will include a new Fulton Bank branch office and two, one-story commercial buildings to house small businesses. “We are looking to support the neighborhood by providing them access to needed goods and services,” said Jose R. Lopez, President of the Spanish American Civic Association and SACA Development Corporation. “The project is a continuation of Plaza Centro and is expected to begin in 2022,” said Lopez. SACA Development applied for a one-time grant from the CRIZ Program to reimburse them for the cost of acquisition and site work. Adjacent to the Duke Street Plaza site on Chesapeake Street, SACA Development is also actively constructing 18 new, affordable townhouses at Conestoga North. The first nine homes are expected to become available for sale by this summer.
New Residential Development in the New Holland Avenue/E. Walnut Street Commercial Hub
New growth is currently visible in the New Holland Avenue/E. Walnut Street commercial hub, with the first new residential units to be built on New Holland Avenue actively under construction, following the development of the apartments at Urban Place more than a decade ago. The 550 Lofts, being developed by Rick Hamilton at a cost of $4.2 million, will feature 22 new market-rate apartments and ground-floor retail at the site formerly occupied by Drums, Etc. at 550 New Holland Avenue.
Housing Study in the Works
The City of Lancaster has partnered with the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County to establish a clearer picture of the state of housing in the City. There is widespread agreement that the affordability of housing and lacking housing supply are key issues, however there is a need to develop a more current and in-depth understanding of the challenges facing the community.
“Once we have good baseline data, we can then make more informed decisions on what tools may best address housing supply and demand,” said Chris Delfs, Director of the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development for the City of Lancaster. “The data will also allow us to provide more targeted assistance for our residents and help us more effectively use the limited resources we do have,” said Delfs.
The Economic Development Company of Lancaster County’s Center for Regional Analysis is conducting the housing study. The Center bills itself as the premier source of insight into economic conditions driving our local economy.
“Dwell” to Add New Housing and Retail to Water Street
The growth of N. Water Street as a key destination and source of new vibrancy in the core of Downtown continues, thanks to the latest investment by Steven and Jennifer Young at 30 N. Water Street. This “micro-development,” to be known as “Dwell,” provides a creative solution addressing the high demand for Downtown housing by converting a single-family row house into a total of nine micro apartments ranging in size from 260 to 465 square feet, made possible by the construction of a rear addition. The conversion of the ground-floor into a storefront will provide additional shopping or dining options on Water Street, further activating the streetscape and complementing other recent developments on the corridor, including the Fulton Theatre’s new performance studio/event space and Zoetropolis Cinema Stillhouse complex.