Good morning. First came the Envy of the East, a business-relief plan put forward by state House Republicans. Then Gov. Tom Wolf proposed Back to Work PA, a $3 billion plan for economic and workforce development. Now, some of Pennsylvania's Senate Republicans are weighing in with a relief plan of their own, Prioritize PA: Small Businesses.
  • They are all converging on the June 30 deadline for passing a state budget for the next fiscal year.
Forward BizNewsPA Forward BizNewsPA

$15M mixed-use project secures zoning approvals

A roughly $15 million mixed-use project in southern Lancaster city cleared key zoning hurdles this week.
  • The city's zoning board on Monday night unanimously approved a raft of variances for the project, shown above, which is designed to create affordable housing.
  • "It's critically in short supply," said the developer, Lancaster businessman Jeremy P. Feakins, who said he has owned the site -- at 800 S. Queen St. -- since 2006.
  • Feakins has long sought to redevelop the tract, formerly home of a store called Rebmans.
  • But his plans gained momentum when the site was included in a tax-incentive area known as an Opportunity Zone, a program established by the Trump administration's signature tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
  • "It encourages developers to invest in distressed neighborhoods and turn buildings which are like ours into something nice for the benefit of the community," said Feakins, a serial entrepreneur who was born and raised in England. He first came to Lancaster in the 1980s.

What's the project: A new four-story building at the southwest corner of South Queen and Furnace streets, at the southern edge of Lancaster. The project manager is Professional Design & Construction Inc. based in Landisville.
  • The building is slated to include 72 affordable apartments with rents that would be within reach of people earning less than 80% of the area's median income. Affordable housing is typically defined as costing no more than 30% of income.
  • The project could also bring a cafe, a small grocery and a medical/health care tenant to a section of the city where commerce is sparse, said Feakins, who works out of an office in a corner of the site.
  • His office would be converted into a day care, while an existing small warehouse would be demolished.
  • The zoning variances granted this week cover building height, setbacks, tenant mix, tree spacing and parking spaces. Officials agreed to allow fewer than the required number of spaces.
  • The extra height -- about 10 feet -- is needed to accommodate stairs leading to a planned roof garden that tenants can use to grow vegetables, flowers and other plants.

What's next: More development work is needed before construction begins, which may not be until 2022, Feakins said. But the zoning approvals could help spur interest from investors.
  • Feakins said he is hoping to raise about $4 million from private investors, including himself, and borrow the remainder. 
  • Some investors may wait for other milestones, like the issuance of building permit, he said. "But zoning is the big one, in my experience anyway," he added.
  • Feakins is chairman of Lancaster-based Ocean Thermal Energy Corp., which is developing technology to produce renewable energy and clean water. His development company is called OZ Fund Inc.
The bottom line: The South Queen Street project is one of only a handful of Central Pennsylvania projects taking advantage of the Opportunity Zone program. People with capital gains can lower their taxes by plowing their gains into Opportunity Zone projects.
  • Feakins said he is hoping to undertake other projects in Lancaster, as well as in York.
  • "There's another city that needs affordable housing. Harrisburg does, too," he said.

Did you know that you can sponsor biznewsPA

Quick takes

WHO'S STEPPING IN: Angela Leopold of Novak Strategic Advisors, a Harrisburg-based lobbying firm. Leopold will be handling advocacy work for the Pennsylvania chapter of NFIB while the small-business group searches for a new state director, according to a press release. Its previous director, former Lancaster lawmaker Gordon Denlinger, took a job this month in the office of Pennsylvania auditor general Timothy DeFoor.
  • Leopold has been at Novak since 2005. Before that, she worked as finance director for the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania.
  • A graduate of Dickinson College, she also is past board chair of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross.

What's on the agenda: Small-business owners are staring at a proposed tax hike from Gov. Tom Wolf, a potential increase in the minimum wage and the work of bouncing back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • "Working with NFIB, together we will ensure the interests of small businesses are advanced in Harrisburg so they can focus on driving our economic recovery,” Leopold said in a statement.

WHO'S HIRING: Providence Engineering. The firm in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, has hired industry veteran Vaughn Silar as a senior consultant on a part-time basis, effective March 1. Silar said he will be focusing on operations and workflow at Providence.
  • Silar founded Paragon Engineering Services in 2002 in Spring Garden Township, York County.
  • He sold Paragon in January 2019 and stayed on for nine months during the ownership transition.

WHERE IS THERE A CROWD: Stony Battery Road off 283 in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. A developer is planning a pair of warehouses next to a newly built warehouse that just sold for $23.725 million. The proposed warehouses at 701 and 791 Stony Battery Road have been approved by the township. 
  • But the developer, Catalyst Commercial Development, is weighing the market before deciding how and when to proceed with construction, according to Lee Fittipaldi, a principal at brokerage firm Lee & Associates of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Each warehouse is slated to span 251,200 square feet.

What about the neighbor: A 252,800-square-foot warehouse at 601 Stony Battery Road, the one that sold for $23.725 million. The buyer was Boston-based investment firm TA Realty.
  • The initial developer of 601 Stony Battery was Catalyst, which sold the project to Massachusetts-based High Street Logistics Properties, Fittipaldi said. High Street sold it to TA.

WHAT'S MOVING: Legislation that would give bars and restaurants a bigger discount when they buy liquor from Pennsylvania. The businesses would get a 15% discount, up from the current 10%, under legislation that was passed unanimously yesterday by the state House Liquor Control Committee. The discount applies to all orders of $50 or more.
What's next: The committee votes were just a first step. The bills still must pass through more legislative hoops before making it to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf.


Got questions? Got feedback? Interested in supporting BizNewsPA?
Contact us at
Compiled and written by Joel Berg

Copyright © 2021 BizNewsPA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp