Stehli Silk Mill

This rendering shows Baltimore developer Larry Silverstein's plan for revitalizing Stehli Silk Mill. Lancaster County planners review the project Monday, July 27, 2020.

The Lancaster County Planning Commission on Monday voted unanimously to approve a preliminary plan for the redevelopment of the long-vacant Stehli Silk Mill in Manheim Township.

The vote is advisory. The township review process will begin Aug. 19, when the township Planning Commission takes a look at the plan. Ultimately, the township Board of Commission has final say on the plan.

As LNP | LancasterOnline reported Sunday, Baltimore developer Larry Silverstein is proposing to create 165 market-rate apartments in the Marshall and Martha avenues complex, near Lancaster Catholic High School. The $35 million project would include a small restaurant and a small commercial space suitable for a store or office.

In presenting the project, Alex Rohrbaugh, a senior community planner with the commission, told the eight commission members attending the virtual meeting that the plan “hits a lot of the policies” laid out in the commission’s comprehensive plan, Places 2040.

These goals include creating a greater supply and diversity of housing, reusing existing buildings and infrastructure, and encouraging compact and efficient growth in areas where there is growth already, said Rohrbaugh.

“This is a great project on a property that is desperately in need of rehabilitation,” said commission member Scott Haverstick, although he encouraged the developer to find a way to lessen its “sea of parking. I wish there were a more creative way to provide the parking.”

The plan calls for 349 spaces, 38 more than required. But Joel Young of civil engineers Rettew, representing Silverstein at the meeting, said the parking quantity and configuration remains under discussion.

In response to suggestions from commission staff, Young said Silverstein would add bike racks and a second vehicular entrance/exit to the property.

Manheim Township resident Daniel Miller, who said he lives across the street from the abandoned silk mill, also suggested the developer take into account existing bicyclists and pedestrians as the traffic flow is designed.

Those points did not diminish Miller’s enthusiasm for the project, though. “I would like for them to start it tomorrow,” he said, while acknowledging that wouldn’t be possible.