Lancaster City Hall 2018

Lancaster City Hall

A proposed zoning change to eight parcels of land near Lancaster General Hospital would pave the way for the development of new offices, retail outlets, restaurants and apartments, hospital representatives told City Council.

The proposed change, which has the blessing of the city and county planning commissions, would reclassify the 3.5-acre site as “Mixed Use,” which LGH says would allow more flexibility in developing the site.

Lancaster General purchased the parcels, which include the site of the old YMCA, in 2004. The old YMCA building was demolished in 2017. Since then the lot has been used for parking and as a temporary park/open space. There is also a child care facility on part of the parcel, as well as unoccupied commercial space with apartments on the upper floors.

If granted the zoning change, LGH plans to sell the parcel to its development partner for the project, Exton-based Hankin Group, which will build medical and administrative offices for LGH and develop the residential and retail aspects of the project.

Both county and city planners have endorsed the rezoning, saying that it is consistent with the goals expressed in both the county and city comprehensive plans.

In a letter presented to council as part of LGH’s application, Marshall W. Snively, president of the Lancaster City Alliance, said the area has been identified as a “key investment opportunity site” in the economic development strategic plan adopted by the city in 2015, which “envisions this area of the Stadium District as newly developed with a combination of dense retail, office, medical, and residential.”

“There is a great deal of consistency, in terms of this rezoning request, with existing city and county land planning documents,” Michael W. Davis, the attorney for LGH, told council Monday.

Outdoor shopping areas?

Council agreed to put a first reading of the proposed change on the agenda for its July 14 meeting. A final vote on the changes is tentatively set for council’s July 28 meeting.

An ordinance that would allow retailers to set up outdoor shopping areas in public spaces will also be on the agenda for the July 14 meeting.

The ordinance, which aims to help retail businesses recover during the COVID-19 pandemic, is similar to the ordinance recently adopted to allow restaurants to establish outdoor dining areas on sidewalks and other public spaces.