125 years into its storied life, York’s Central Market House has been enjoying a renaissance.
The historic property had a small but loyal following of visitors, and a wealth of untapped potential. Over the last few years, the market has made major changes and that following has grown considerably. The most significant and most tangible difference came with the physical improvements led by Murphy & Dittenhafer.
Prior to the renovation, the market’s basic systems and environmental needs – including electrical, sanitary, fire protection, and temperature control – were considerable. Murphy & Dittenhafer estimated that it would cost about $4 million dollars to bring everything up to code and functioning in a way that would allow the market to better utilize their space and continue to grow. The challenge? They had only $2.2 million of grant funding to work with.
There were two user groups to keep in mind: the market’s vendors and customers. There was a sharp focus on making improvements that would allow for easier accommodation of vendor requirements so that it would be possible for the market to be fully occupied with an appropriate mix of vendors; new utilities were brought to locations that didn’t have them before, and systems access congregated for specific types of vendors.
The customer experience had to be enhanced, as well. Customer aisles were dark, existing gathering spaces were insufficient, and the entrances had heavy doors that made access difficult. The renovation included lighting for shopping, as well as accent lighting that added an element of romance to the historic facility. New doors eliminated the one-inch gaps at the entrance points, and matched the original Dempwolf designs. A new seating area was added along the market’s Beaver Street side and the underutilized mezzanine got a warm makeover.
The project budget was wisely spent in a way that focused on operational improvements that maximized the market’s sustainability. The building is now much more energy-efficient, and poised for continued success now and into the future.
One of the most remarkable things about this project is that the market stayed open the entire time. Much of the work was done at night in order to minimize the impact on operations.
Historic York Award
If you’d have asked Frank Dittenhafer 20 years ago what his favorite building was in York, he would tell you without a moment’s hesitation that it was Central Market. He had spent a lot of time there as a child, and was enamored of the architecture, the construction, and the façade. He has long believed that it is the most magnificent piece of architecture in York.
And so he was honored to have the opportunity to work on a renovation project – even one with a tightly-constrained budget. Since many people shared in his admiration of this glorious building, there was a certain level of pressure to do the right thing in making improvements.
The reverent consideration that went into the project was recognized with one of Historic York’s annual Preservation Awards. The award celebrated Murphy & Dittenhafer’s stewardship and careful decision-aking, and acknowledged the reality that the market had to change in order to remain relevant and useful to the community.