Bill could help revitalize more of downtown York

A York County Lawmaker has created a bill to revitalize blighted areas all over the state and help small businesses.

State Representative Keith Gillespie (R) 47th District created House Bill 2141, a bill that would allow municipalities to create Community Development Authorities to acquire delinquent or blighted properties and

These authorities could use state tax credits to finance necessary improvements and then when a building is ready the authority could apply for funding to give the small business “Micro-loans” ranging between $5,000 and $10,000.

“If they could get a little bit of a booster shot it’s going to spur economic recovery, get some jobs, but most importantly clean up the blight,” said Rep. Gillespie.

Downtown
North Beaver and George Streets in Downtown York are flourishing with small boutiques and unique restaurants. Brokerage Adviser Ben Chiaro, with Rock Commercial Real Estate said that is where most of the demand is. “Smaller specialty and boutique retail, and smaller dedicated eateries, that focus on niche businesses,” said Chiaro.
A far cry from just a block away on West Market Street.  “Approximately 90% of the current vacancy sits right here on this block,” said Chiaro. “These larger spaces used to house giant department stores and general retailers.”

The buildings are not exactly ideal for smaller businesses. “I think today’s model is to do everything really well, rather than a couple of things mediocre. So the specialty boutiques will specialize in just certain products and they just don’t have the demand 7,000 or 10,000 square feet,” said Chiaro.

“The tenants have start-up budgets to build their businesses, and create a marketing budget, and stock their stores. The increased code issues, because of the historic nature of these buildings, can drive those costs upward,” said Chiaro. “I think what this bill could do is offset some of these costs.”

And the bill will help more than just York. “Reading, Lancaster, Scranton, Erie, Pittsburgh, Altoona, any number of cities across the Commonwealth that are experiencing the same things that we are here locally,” said Rep. Gillespie.

What’s next?
The Bill passed the Urban Affairs Committee Unanimously and is schedule for a vote in the House in June.