Lancaster city will get as much as $2.1 million through the CRIZ, a state revitalization program funded by local businesses, to help pay for the renovation of Ewell Plaza.
The nine-member City Revitalization & Improvement Zone Authority voted unanimously to fund the downtown project this week, though two members raised questions about doing so.
Board members Mark Vergenes and Lisa Colon argued the program is designed to help businesses, not government, and that funding the city’s project sets a bad precedent.
“The city has other ways of raising capital,” Vergenes said.
The authority’s acting executive director, Randy Patterson, defended the move, saying the redevelopment of what was formerly known as Lancaster Square was the keystone of the city’s pitch to join the program in 2013. The square is the only city-owned property in the footprint of the the CRIZ, which is home to roughly 500 businesses.
He added that the public plaza is part of a much larger, revitalization of the block that includes tens of millions of dollars in private investment at 101NQ and the Holiday Inn Lancaster.
Rebuilding Ewell Plaza will cost about $2.5 million, according to the city. The first phase, costing about $300,000, includes an L-shaped area around the perimeter of 101NQ and is to wrap up next week. The majority of the work, costing $2.2 million, is to start in late 2020, once construction of the Christian Street Garage and Lancaster Public Library project is far enough advanced to permit it.