Lancaster City Council Greenlights EDC Need for Additional Office Space

Photo courtesy City of Lancaster

Lancaster Economic Development Corporation to purchase a commercial property on North Henry Street

LANCASTER – The City of Lancaster City Council greenlighted a resolution ratifying the approval for the Lancaster Economic Development Corporation to purchase a commercial property on North Henry Street to accommodate the city’s continuing growth.

The Henry Street property was constructed in 1951 as the City Hall/Fire Station. As such, it not only has historical value but is conveniently located across the street from the current City Hall.

The funding for the purchase was approved up to $302,000 for the purchase of the property, including survey and title related expenses.

The LEDC funds are collected from the ¼ of one percent additional sales and use tax, which is authorized by state law.

It was a 5-2 vote to allow the city hall to expand into the additional building with Lancaster Mayor Clyde Hairston voting yes alongside Mayor Pro Tem Betty Gooden-Davis, District 1 Carol Strain-Burk, District 2 Stanley Jaglowski, and District 5 Michael Cheatham. Voting against were District 3 Marco Mejia, and District 4 Keithsha Wheaton.

Lancaster City Manager Opal Mauldin-Jones explained 16 employees from the Economic Development Corporation and Development staff would be moving to the new 4,100 square-foot building.

The item was on the agenda for council to ratify the resolution as previously approved in July by the Lancaster Economic Development Corporation

“As the city continues to experience growth our Economic Development as well as our Development Services team, in keeping up with and providing exceptional customer service as, is expected as well as presenting and providing a meeting space and presentation to our large corporations that are coming in.

Lancaster EDC Making Valuable Contributions

“I recommend approval and ratification from the Lancaster Economic Development Corporation,” Mauldin-Jones said. “Over the last several years EDC and our staff has generated over $3 billion in new projects generating over 3000 jobs coming into the city of Lancaster.”

Mauldin-Jones added that this growth is expected to continue. She reminded council that the city was growing even during the last few years of the COVID pandemic.

In short, the Lancaster Economic Development Corporation would purchase the building, and if ratified, would identify, and begin working with a contractor for renovation of the space.

Mauldin-Jones said the architects preferred to wait to begin working on the project until after it was approved by the city council. She did add that the estimated cost on what it looks like for a facility of that size to be renovated would roughly be $175 to $200 per square-foot.

Mejia, who voted against the item was adamant it was a bad business decision and said the way this project was being handled is not the way the private side works. He added that no one knows real estate like he does in the council room and “they definitely don’t know real estate as much as I do in Lancaster.”

Cheatham said he has been Lancaster for 30 years and he has seen the city wait too long to do a number of things.

“By waiting we have all seen that the value of things is going up,” Cheatham said. “If we want quality business to come here, we can’t wait, I think we need to start moving forward on some things. This is embarrassing.”

Jaglowski added “We have enough preliminary data for me to agree the price of the building is in line with the market value at this time.  I am not into real estate, and I rely on staff’s findings and the professional results that were provided to us in great depth and in great detail.”

Growing City Needs Additional Space For Staff

Mauldin-Jones explained EDC purchases are made by EDC and brought before the council to ratify.  If the council ratifies the purchase the EDC, then authorizes the expenditure of funds to hire an architect to do the preliminary drawings and make the recommendation. It then comes back to the City Council to consider moving forward.

Hairston concluded “A growing city has to be provided with staff. That staff has to be provided with space to work.”

He added that he would indeed rather see a brand new city hall, but the city isn’t there yet. As such he said it is necessary to do what needs to be done to accommodate the growth and keep moving forward.

According to Lancaster City Staff there is currently over 12 million square-feet of industrial/distribution space under construction in the city and a number of developers are actively investigating new projects, both spec buildings and build-to-suit facilities for larger companies with Lancaster in mind as one of the possible options.