Kyle Sollenberger often walks along East Marion Street with his children from his East Orange Street home to Musser Park.
He would pass the vacant, dilapidated building that was the former home of Gam Manufacturing.
An entrepreneur, Sollenberger began thinking about ways to better the neighborhood by reusing the building at 315 E. Marion St..
On Monday, Sollenberger and his architect laid out plans to members of Lancaster city's Historical Commission.
A city cafe, which he declined to name, is interested in using the building to roast coffee. Previously, before the city's Zoning Hearing Board, he said the cafe operators also would have a bakery in the building to prepare items for sale in the cafe. Employee training also would occur there.
To create that facility, plans call for demolishing older sections of the building, renovating the newer addition and constructing a new second floor over part of the structure, said Hunter Johnson, principal of Tono Architects.
"It's something that I can do to beautify my neighborhood and help the city as a whole," Sollenberger said of the project.
According to newspaper records, GAM Manufacturing Co. sold the property to Sollenberger's Marion Street Palate Co. LP for $220,000 late last year.
Johnson said the former factory, where metal parts were manufactured, has been vacant for about seven years, during which the building has been neglected.
"There are parts that can be kept and there are parts that cannot be kept," Johnson told commission members.
Demolition of the oldest parts of the building, likely built in the late 1800s, and the other older additions would open a "motor court" area for parking, he said. Building walls at the edge of the property will be reduced to seat height and retained as a boundary wall for much of the site.
The newest parts of the building, dating to about 1966, would be retained. The second-floor addition would be on the back of the building, along the north side, creating an L-shaped facility.
The courtyard would be paved with cobble-stones to allow rainwater to penetrate through to the ground, and a vegetative green roof would be added to part of the building, plans show.
"We're looking at something decidedly different, decidedly modern," Johnson said of the mid-century modern style of the proposed building. That proposal draws from the era of the salvaged section of the building.
Suzanne Stallings, the city's historic preservation specialist, said in her report that the demolition and new construction were appropriate for the site.
Commission members praised the creative reuse of the building and the concept behind the designs, but they also wanted more details.
They asked Johnson and Sollenberger to return for their next monthly meeting, on April 15, with samples of the materials that would be used in the new construction.
Paula Jackson, chief of the city Planning Bureau, said that since the project still needs to undergo land development review, the delay would not effect a construction start for the project.
"I congratulate you on doing what you are doing," commission member Pat Coller told Sollenberger.
He declined to provide additional details of the project after the meeting.