We love this city. In 2011, Lancaster bolstered its image as an emerging city with tremendous momentum on its side. Pioneering small business owners, repurposed warehouses, prettied sidewalks and constructed murals surfaced across the urban landscape. Here are the top ten reasons to celebrate from the past year:
1) Streetscape improvements: The sidewalks up-and-down the main city corridors look terrific. These modifications–widened and brick-banded sidewalks, new street trees, and fresh paving illuminate the beautiful architecture and make the streets friendlier to pedestrians. The City of Lancaster has done a great job of emphasizing the importance of sidewalks and lighting. It’s the little things that make cities work.
2) Shadow Lawn Apartments: When the developers announced this project, it immediately enthused me. I love to see new faces in the urban real estate scene (in this instance, former owner of Auntie Anne’s, Sam Beiler) and I love to see new uses of empty buildings. Potential drips from this building and I think the final project will energize this block. Let’s hope this is the first of many projects for
3) Historic East Side: Well, this project is simply beautiful. Veteran city developer, John Meeder, took a largely vacant and tired street and infused fresh life and significant financial resources into this burgeoning district. A mix of historically accurate first floor retail and upper floor apartments (with a splash of office suites) brings the right mix of usage to this center city neighborhood.
Source: Historic East Side web site
4) Urban Greening: A famous lyricist affectionately described New York City as a “concrete jungle” (where dreams are made). When we think of cities, we think of hulking high-rises and asphalt alleys. In this light, cities are the horticultural opposite of the rolling countryside. The healthiest cities, however, go beyond steel and concrete. Lancaster is a reformer, demonstrating that Lancaster can be a city that holds onto its agricultural heritage. Hundreds of new street trees, a bunch of new green roofs and an ambitious porous alley project set in motion a very positive trend for the city.
Source: LIVE Green Lancaster
5) Central Market renovation: It’s called “The Jewel of Center City.” And in 2011, we polished the jewel with a beautiful renovation. While nobody likes flimsy orange fencing and the other inconveniences of construction, the final product was well-worth the pain. The City of Lancaster restored Central Market back to much of its original grandeur, improving the heating/cooling systems and opening up long-closed windows for improved natural lighting.
6) 22 new businesses: The Central Penn Business Journal reported an astounding number: 22. Over the course of the past 12 months, Lancaster City has had a net gain of 22 new businesses (35 over the past two years). In a sluggish economy, this dramatic growth is even more impressive. These new businesses bring a lot of exciting new faces and spaces into the city. The list is long, but it includes Orange Street Velo, The Fridge, Fresco Green, La Petite Patisserie, Party Perfect, Laporte Jewelers, The Sassy Tassel (best business name ever!), Maison (with beautiful design care of Infantree), Envy Studio, Fraiche Studio, Lemon Street Market, Pour Wine Bar, Prince Street Hideaway, Freiman Stoltzfus Gallery, City Ballroom, The Shoppes at 301, Resale Therapy Boutique and CVS on College Row (if I missed you, jot a note in the comments and I’ll add you!).
Source: Orange Street Velo
7) Miguel’s No Mas: The Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) purchased the tract of land surrounding the “illustrious” Miguel’s Nightclub in southeast Lancaster. SACA not only has a proven track record of success, but they also purchased the Miguel’s property, an establishment known to introduce countless police problems. Their plans include apartments, homes, and retail and will build on the high-potential location bordering the Conestoga River. This will be an anchor development in southeast Lancaster and I am anxious to see it rise.
8) Poetry Paths: At the intersection of art, poetry, and Lancaster’s heritage you will find Poetry Paths. Across the city, at over a dozen proposed sites, poetry has begun to surface. These projects, ranging from Tabor to PCAD, will infuse unique energy into the city streets and thanks to some enthusiastic supporters, it has the potential to make a wide and deep impact.
9) The Candy Factory Expansion: The Candy Factory is quintessential Lancaster. It is a tremendous picture of community and entrepreneurship. Housed in the historic Keppel building, Candy Factory is a co-working facility. Over 30 members call Candy Factory their corporate home and they announced this year that they are expanding because of the strong demand. Onward and upward.
10) Ponessa Groundbreaking: There is nothing sweeter than the disappearance of a surface-level parking lot. Anyone who consistently reads this blog knows surface parking lots are the thorn in my urbanist side. The northwest corner of Lemon and Prince streets was a dead spot in Lancaster’s city center for entirely too long. I’m excited for Ponessa and Lewis and Associates as the infill development project they’re endeavoring upon will breathe fresh life into this corner. They still have a long way to go, but I’m glad to see they’ve broken ground.
Source: Lewis & Associates