Oak Tree Development Group executives last week offered a project update prior to a tour inside the ongoing, multifaceted construction of “The Wilbur,” a planned Hilton Hotel, 48 On The Park condominiums, bistro, and retail shops that will open this summer.
Ian Ruzow, Oak Tree Development Group partner, and Michael O’Brien, company president, unveiled plans for ‘Market At The Wilbur,’ a small food marketplace expected to open in June.
Market At The Wilbur, which Ruzow compared to markets you see in larger metropolitan areas, such as Union Market in Washington, D.C. or Eately in New York City, adds the final piece to the overall redevelopment plan of the former Wilbur Chocolate plant.
“The Market At The Wilbur will feature six restaurants in one open space, serving fresh, local food and drink in an upscale urban setting,” Ruzow said.
The shops will complement the hotel’s yet-to-be-named bistro — under construction and expected to open along with the Hilton Hotel possibly in time for July 4 fireworks. Shop-owners who inked leases with Market At The Wilbur are Rooster Street Butcher and Deli, Whiff Roasters, Waltz Vineyards, Oola Açaí Bowls and Smoothies, Presto Pasta, and Zig’s Bakery.
All but two are secondary sites of shops in the local area.
“We were looking for something a little different, more exciting, because this whole project is new and exciting,” Ruzow said.
Rooster Street Butcher and Deli will offer sandwiches, cheese and fresh meats; and Whiff Roasters will sell various coffee to drink or take coffee to make at home.
Waltz Vineyards will offer wine tastiness and Pennsylvania wines to purchase by the glass or bottle; Oola Açaí Bowls and Smoothies makes healthy, fresh-fruit drinks. Presto Pasta, is a York-based business that serves through an ordering line where customers can select a pasta, vegetables, sauces and toppings. Zig’s Bakery will offer its baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, breads, soup and salads.
“So you can buy your fresh linguine and fresh clam sauce at Presto; turn around get your fresh bread at Zig’s, go to Rooster Street to buy your cheese — go home and you’ve got dinner,” Ruzow said. The market will be located on Broad Street next to the entrance to the main restaurant and will run up to Klein Street.
“We started with 2,000-square-feet of retail space that was divided into three individual spaces and we had a lot of interest from small ‘mom and pop businesses’ who wanted to come and open,” Ruzow said.
The shops will all operate during the same hours six days a week and closed on Mondays. Tuesday to Saturday hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with shops open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Who doesn’t love walking into a food market?” Ruzow asked. “There is a certain kind of energy; a mingling of sounds, smells and sights. There will be an outside produce stand operating a few days per week outside Market At The Wilbur, which will remain open late during special events such as Fire & Ice, he said. Oak Tree announced plans in May 2017 to renovate the former Wilbur Chocolate plant and add 26 loft-style condominiums, a 74-room boutique hotel, sit-down bistro and small retail shops.
Last March, the developer announced the name of ‘48 On The Park’ for the condominiums and the collaboration with Hilton Tapestry Brand Hotels.
Last week, an army of subcontractors and crews from Wohlsen Construction and Simeral Construction continued to make progress creating the living spaces, restaurant, bar, lobby, and a modern elevator. Workers are already moving in the drywall that will transform the rapidly developing segments inside the former chocolate factory.
It will be the third Hilton Hotel that Oak Tree Development Group has built. Phase two of the project includes two new five-story, wood-framed apartment buildings with 155 one- and two-bedroom apartments and “hybrid senior living housing” with 32 independent living apartments. Construction is now ongoing for a structured covered parking area with an on-street level and lower-grade section.
Ruzow said the idea to add the six-shop market to the project was inspired by Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health’s announcement in December 2017 that it would bring about 400 non-medical staff to work at the former Susquehanna Bank headquarters and BB&T offices in downtown Lititz.
John Lines, of Penn Medicine LGH, said the non-medical staff workers would all move at the same time, sometime in the fall.
He said renovations on the property are continuing to make room for staff currently working in the Burle Business Park in Lancaster.
“The Market at Wilbur makes even more sense with the hospital moving its back-office to Lititz and adding 400, 500 people on a daily basis to downtown,” Ruzow said. The concept of the Market at The Wilbur was to have merchants who “could sell you something you could eat right away as well as have products that you can purchase for later use.”
“It’s a good mix of different food businesses that will carry from breakfast through dinner,” Ruzow said. He said there was enough interest by local restaurants to “easily open a 10,000-square-foot market” on the North Broad Street site and there’s a waiting list of interested businesses.
With crucial procedural hurdles cleared, the revitalization of the vacant Wilbur Chocolate s…
“I only wish we had more space to accommodate all the concepts that want to go into the space,” Ruzow said. We now have a waiting list.
Ruzow said setting up the food market was a labor of love and that food halls are the new food trucks with a simple concept: providing the latest food trends under one roof from businesses that are locally owned and operated, fast and affordable.
“Food, food markets and food halls are my passion and we are excited to bring the first true food hall to the Lititz community and Lancaster County,” he said.
Ultimately, the goal of Market At The Wilbur is to allow customers to walk in, “get a loaf of bread, a glass of wine, some fresh pasta and enjoy a meal in a cool environment.”
“Or you can pick up your meal and take it with you,” Ruzow said.