More than four years after they unveiled their concept for a boutique hotel in downtown Lancaster, Kyle Sollenberger and Crystal Weaver have pulled the plug on the project.
Sollenberger and Weaver, owners of Prince Street Cafe and Passenger Coffee Roasters, announced plans in Feb. 2015 for The Surveyor Hotel, a 60-room hotel with a restaurant at 112-116 N. Prince St.
Plans called for adding a fourth floor to what had been the Teachers Protective Mutual Life building while constructing a four-story building on the adjacent parking lot.
But trouble with financing and investor partners who continually got cold feet ultimately made the project unworkable, Sollenberger said.
“After many attempts and much consideration, we have decided not to move forward with the Surveyor Hotel project,” Sollenberger said in an email. “Although I still firmly believe that it would have been a tremendously successful project, others were not as convinced.”
While construction-ready plans were finalized in early 2016, Sollenberger said the project never got the extra backing it needed. He did not respond to a question about the project’s possible cost.
“Throughout the past four years, we have had numerous hotel partners get to the finish line only to decide that the numbers were just too tight,” he said. “As much as I’d like to believe we could pull this off on our own, there were enough ‘experts’ to say otherwise.”
Seeking a new buyer
Sollenberger and Weaver bought the property for $875,000 and now have it listed for for sale for $1.25 million. It includes a 32-space parking lot that has been the summer home of Prince Street Park which has included a variety of food and drink vendors. The spot has also hosted a Christmas village.
Besides developing Prince Street Park, Sollenberger said they had short term leases with Pour’s Patio and with Jess King’s campaign for Congress which rented space in the building.
Sollenberger said they will “incur quite a bit of a loss” because of the money spent formulating the plans for the Surveyor Hotel as well as ongoing costs for upkeep and the annual taxes, which the sale listing estimates at just over $20,000.
The proceeds of any sale of would go back to Sollenberger and Weaver with some of it also being reinvested in their other projects, Sollenberger said.
“Our decision to sell the property came out of a clearer understanding of our goals as a company and needs for future projects,” he said.
Refocused on hospitality
Weaver was one of the original owners of Prince Street Cafe when it opened in 2006. Sollenberger, who is originally from the Lancaster area, worked at a variety of technology companies in San Francisco, where he helped create several mobile apps. He teamed up with Weaver after moving back to the Lancaster in 2012.
Since Sollenberger and Weaver announced plans for the The Surveyor Hotel four years ago, they have greatly expanded the business they operate through their hospitality management company, The Commons Company. They now have around 80 employees.
In February 2016 The Commons Company opened a Passenger Coffee shop at 7 W. King St. in part of a building they bought that December from the city for $460,000. That sale prompted the city to change how it sells such properties after some developers complained about it being finalized too quickly.
Other Common’s Company projects include the August 2017 opening of Blue Line coffee on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College as well a new coffee roastery at retail shop at 131 N. Plum St. where construction is underway.
Weaver and Sollenberger are also developing a Prince Street Cafe in York and continue to expand the bakery, wholesale kitchen and catering business they operate from 315 E. Marion Street.
Sollenberger said they will focus on their existing ventures and would be unlikely to try to develop another hotel in the future.
Yet Sollenberger was hopeful about the prospects of someone else moving ahead with the property and the circa-1860 building on Prince Street.
“Although we’ll be sad to hand it over, I still believe that the property needs to be developed,” he said. “It is a ‘missing tooth’ in the block and deserves to be something great. We’re looking forward to see what’s next!”