The Historical Commission’s members had a quibble or two, but overall they liked the look of the apartment complex proposed for the first block of West King Street.

The residents of the Hager Building who attended the commission's Monday meeting sounded pleased, too.

“We’re thrilled to have something coming next door,” said Cindy Stewart, president of the building’s condominium association.

They’re encouraged by the owner’s and developer’s attentiveness to their concerns, she said. Among other things, they want to be sure the Hager Building’s windows won’t be blocked — they won’t be, architect Charles Alexander assured them — and they’re hoping for some shared green space between the two buildings.

The five-story complex would be built in the surface parking lot just west of the Hager Building. It would surround and incorporate 43 W. King St., a three-story commercial building designed by noted Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban.

The project developer would be Baltimore-based Washington Place Equities, represented at Monday’s meeting by Dominic Wiker.

He was joined by Alexander, principal of Alexander Design Studio, based in Ellicott City, Maryland, and Maryann Marotta of the Lancaster-based firm Marotta/Main.

The tentative plan calls for 132 market-rate apartments, mostly studio and one-bedroom, though there would be a few two-bedrooms, Alexander said.

The average size would be around 600 square feet, he said.

There would be ground-level retail space along West King Street. 

The project was designed to fit the streetscape and harmonize with its neighbors, he explained. Its facade is recessed around 43 W. King St., allowing the older building to retain prominence.

“I love this,” commission member Steve Funk said. “I’ve been waiting for a project in that parking lot for years.”

Wiker’s firm has developed similar projects in Baltimore. In Lancaster, he said, the company believes it can appeal to a broad range of potential renters, from younger single people to older couples interested in urban living.

Alexander clarified that the building’s 127-space garage would be for tenants, not the public. That sparked some concern from Hager Building residents, who noted the lot there now, which has about 100 spaces, is heavily used, especially on Central Market’s open days.

The project is currently in its due diligence phase, Wiker said, with his team working with property owner Douglas Shand to analyze whether it’s feasible — a process that included Monday’s informal testing of the waters at the Historical Commission.

Assuming things move forward, the project team would likely make a formal application to the commission in early 2019, Wicker said.

It would be months after that before construction started, late 2019 at the earliest, he said. He pegged construction time at around 14 to 16 months.

It’s too early to estimate a budget, he said.