Three years ago, Robert and Shirley Hunter were living in a spacious home in a suburban neighborhood just east of Lancaster city.
They had nice neighbors, but they were all busy living their own lives. “You could go days without speaking to anyone,” Robert says.
The Hunters frequently drove to downtown Lancaster, whether it was to use their season tickets to the Fulton Theatre or to shop at Central Market. They found themselves drawn to the walkability, the sense of community and the possibilities of urban living.
“We decided it was time in our life to change our lifestyle,” Shirley says.
The retired couple put their names on the waiting list for Steeple View Lofts, an age 55-plus residence operated by Landis Communities, in November 2018 and moved into a loft-style apartment about two years ago. They haven’t looked back.
“Anytime we leave our apartment, we’re going to run into someone we know,” Shirley says. “It’s definitely the community we were looking for and found. The people care for each other.”
Steeple View Lofts features 36 one- and two-bedroom apartments on three floors of a charmingly repurposed tobacco warehouse at 118 N. Water St. Each floor has a common area — two floors have lounges with Wi-Fi, TV and a library, and the third has exercise equipment. A second-floor deck is a popular gathering spot, and the Hunters often meet friends there for coffee or games.
That sense of community extends to a social committee that plans monthly activities, a group that regularly attends trivia night next door at Columbia Kettle Works, and an active resident council where Robert serves as a representative.
It also extends right outside their door, where much of what downtown Lancaster has to offer is within a few blocks and they can go days without getting in a car. Steeple View Lofts is not only within easy walking distance of the Fulton and Central Market, but also Zoetropolis Cinema Stillhouse and a host of downtown galleries, shops and restaurants. Even closer, Miesse Candies and Ice Cream Parlor is on the first floor of the building.
While the Hunters were drawn to urban living, they were also drawn to the unique charm of their living space at Steeple View. Unlike newer, cookie-cutter condos and apartment buildings, Steeple View units are each a little different, but all feature exposed brick walls and duct work — a reminder of the building’s historic past. Oversized windows and 13-foot ceilings offer fantastic light and a sense of space, Shirley says, adding that she loves the apartment’s nooks, crannies and angles, rather than a perfectly square space.
The Hunters have children who live out of town, so they chose a two-bedroom unit to accommodate overnight guests. There are small lofts in each bedroom and a larger attic loft over the kitchen offering additional space.
Downsizing was difficult, Shirley says, but the generous space in their apartment made it less painful.
“I was actually able to keep most of my precious things,” she says.
They were even able to bring their two cats, which made the decision to move to Steeple View Lofts even easier, they say.
One of the most precious things they have now is that sense of community. Robert says his time on the resident council has helped him get to know his neighbors and to appreciate the Steeple View administrators, who are always interested in what residents have to say.
The Steeple View Lofts community, the Hunters say, is much like the broader Lancaster city community: diverse and friendly.
“Many of the residents at Steeple View are not local. We are. Shirley grew up (in Lancaster County) and I’ve lived here for 49 or 50 years,” Robert says. “Yet we’ve all blended together into a perfect little melting pot.”
Among the many benefits of living at Steeple View Lofts, residents also have access to Landis at Home, a program of Landis Communities offering personal care services, transportation and wellness support.
Rent at Steeple View starts at about $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,700 for a two-bedroom apartment. An in-unit washer/dryer is included along with other appliances, and pets are welcome.
One months’ deposit is required. There are no entrance fees, maintenance fees or association fees. Residents are responsible for electricity, cable, phone and internet.