“West King Street should be considered an extension of Downtown,” the Lancaster City Alliance wrote in Building on Strength, its 15-year economic development plan for Lancaster.
The 2015 document calls for a mix of infill and redevelopment to fill streetscape gaps and improve the “cohesiveness of uses” on West King from downtown westward up to Mulberry Street. It recommends situating retail shops and restaurants at ground level and housing or office space upstairs.
The West King corridor taking shape in 2023 could hardly fit the alliance’s hopes better. Last week, its president, Marshall Snively, and Jeremy Young, director of community & economic development, discussed the rapidly evolving West King streetscape at the Hourglass Foundation’s First Friday Forum.
They were joined by partners involved in the corridor’s soon-to-open flagship development, Landis Place on King.
Landis Place on King
Developed by senior housing nonprofit Landis Quality Living, an affiliate of Landis Communities, the seven-story, $28 million residential complex for ages 55+ is scheduled to open this spring at 239 W. King St.
“This is an intentional project,” said Evon Bergey, Landis Quality Living’s executive director. That is, it was designed to create and nurture community, both inside its walls and in the neighborhood it is joining.
With support from a fundraising campaign, 10 of the units were set aside as dedicated affordable units for lower-income tenants.
The Rev. Elizabeth Soto assisted Landis Communities with outreach to Latino and Black communities, hosting information sessions and doing radio interviews on WLCH Radio Centro. As a result, people of color will account for more than half of the affordable units’ initial leases, she said.
The building has about 4,000 square feet of retail space. In part of it, the Rendezvous Pizzeria & Steak Shop, which operated for decades at the site, is re-opening.
In addition, United Way of Lancaster County is leasing space for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. It is relocating its VITA headquarters from Harrisburg Pike and planning to grow it into a year-round financial empowerment office helping ALICE households achieve economic stability.
The space includes a large community room, which will be made available to nonprofits and community groups, President Kevin Ressler said.
Ressler said he’s often skeptical about development projects: Too often they lead, not to the betterment of working-class communities, but their displacement.
Landis Place on King’s outreach to low and moderate-income neighbors, on the other hand, has made it clear that it’s “a place that they belong,” he said.
Landis Place on King is by far the largest new development in the West King Street corridor, but it’s part of a broader revitalization that Young, the alliance’s director of community & economic development, outlined for the forum audience.
He highlighted Bravo, the Latino-owned supermarket that opened at 225 W. King St. in 2017, as well as the lighting, repainting and restoration work along the street funded by the alliance’s facade improvement program.
Citywide, that initiative completed more than 100 projects, he said. It has exhausted its $1.3 million initial grant and is now looking for fresh funding.
Young also highlighted the boost to mom-and-pop retailers offered by the City Revitalization & Improvement Zone’s small business financing program, which provides grants and loans to eligible businesses to cover startup or expansion costs. (The Rendezvous restaurant is among its beneficiaries.)
Building on Strength
The Lancaster City Alliance’s Building on Strength plan proposed strategies for seven sections of Lancaster in all: The downtown plus six commercial corridors, including West King.
It laid out a number of investment and development goals for Lancaster to aim for. Midway through the 2015-2030 period, the city is ahead of the game on most of them, alliance President Marshall Snively said.
A case in point: Building on Strength called for $1 billion in new private investment in Lancaster by 2030. To date, there has been $981 million — that is, 98% of the goal — and another $400 million is in the works, for a total of $1.38 billion.
“We’re hitting it out of the park,” Snively said.
For more statistics, visit the alliance’s Building on Strength dashboard.