Frank Dittenhafer still looks out his office window and dreams of what York’s Northwest Triangle could be: a mixed-use residential redevelopment project in part of the city’s industrial core.
Today, that dream is inching closer to reality.
The team in place – Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects, the Time Group of Baltimore, and Kinsley Construction – has been working closely over the past few months to refine the designs. The project is still in the due diligence phase. The team is finalizing financing and agreements with the City of York, as well as refining designs. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of excitement about the project.
“It is going to be, unequivocally, a very exciting urban-lifestyle driven project,” Dittenhafer says. “There’s not a residential based mixed-use project like it in downtown York.”
Dominic Wiker, development director for the Time Group, shares that enthusiasm.
“We did a market study last fall, and we’re pleased with the activity and depth in the market,” he says. “It’s very interesting how quickly new product is snapped up. Those are all good signs for the health of downtown York.”
Tweaking the plan
That market study led to some slight tweaks in the plan, shifting the mix of living units to include more two-bedroom apartments. The two-bedroom units, Dittenhafer says, offer more possibilities.
“You can have roommates with a two-bedroom apartment, or couples find more room to share,” he says. “The second bedroom can also be used as a spare room or office. There’s a lot of options.”
Wiker says this change also reflects a difference in the York market.
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“We have a lot of product in Baltimore, and what we see there is a younger, more millennial clientele,” he says. “We’ve identified downtown York as a potentially more diverse market. So, the adjustments to the design, the more larger units, reflect that.”
Overall, the design calls for 130 total apartments split between two four-story buildings, with 71 in one and 59 in the other. In addition to the two-bedroom units, there will be a small number of studio apartments, as well as one-bedroom units.
And the plans call for a mix within that mix. Units won’t be cookie-cutter; even ones of the same size and type won’t be exactly alike.
“Even within those three general categories, there will be different locations, different size configurations, but they’ll all be really great units,” Dittenhafer says. “Some of the ground floor units will have outdoor patio areas. One of the things we’re still considering is some modest exterior balconies for some upper floor units, as well.”
A great place to live, work and play
The Northwest Triangle won’t just feature great apartments. The design calls for retail space at key locations and all the amenities residents could want, like a fitness center, game room, and club areas.
“It’s going to be a really great place to live, work and play,” Dittenhafer says, “and the location is phenomenal. That’s not changing, “that” being right in the heart of things and with all of the walkability aspects.”
For those who might still want or need to use cars, there will be between 100 and 130 parking spaces. But this won’t turn the area into a concrete jungle, Dittenhafer says, as the design calls for the area, especially nearest the buildings, to be “nicely landscaped, not a preponderance of paving.”
Finishing off that unique look to the project calls for a mix of various exterior materials to create a “cool, urban vibe” and personality, Dittenhafer adds.
There’s some time yet before earth starts to move. Once financing, regulatory issues and design tweaks come together, construction should start in 2018, hopefully in spring or early summer.
The anticipation, and the dream of creating something amazing out of a now-empty space, just keeps building in the meantime.
“I think the location offers a huge opportunity to fill in a big hole in downtown,” Wiker says. “There’s been a lot of work done in downtown York. We’re excited about helping generate activity and being part of making that connectivity between parts of downtown come to life.”
Dittenhafer’s outlook has changed along with the design changes. Just slightly.
“The change is I’m even more excited,” he says. “This is not just another project. It is going to change, in a very positive way, the landscape of downtown York. I get very passionate about those opportunities.
“I think the project is truly going to be very transformational for downtown.”