Finally, after the best opportunities have been lost, Gray and Patterson see the light

The following article appeared in LNP and on LancasterOnLine.

“Lancaster city wants to take Bulova building by eminent domain; officials cite inaction by owner”

Mayor Rick Gray and City Planner Randy Patterson are at long last taking an approach that NewsLanc’s publisher, retired real estate developer Robert Field, had urged two years ago.

Unfortunately, it is only after turning down even discussing the Brunswick Hotel being acquired at a distressed price by a non-profit public spirited group interested in making it available as part of the redevelopment of the entire Lancaster Square East, apart from the parking garage.

According to LNP: “This is the city’s way and the redevelopment authority’s way of saying: You’ve had enough time to do this. Many things are impacted, including John Meeder’s plans, and we need to move forward,” Randy Patterson, the city’s economic development and neighborhood revitalization director, said Thursday….

“Mayor Rick Gray said inaction on the 212,000-square-foot building ‘really frustrates development in downtown Lancaster and has made that block a dead block on that side…

“Under eminent domain, the city would pay fair market value for the property and lien holders would then be paid.”

We have never quite understood the end game of the acquisition of the Brunswick by John Meeder and whoever are his associates. Will they now also re-develop their Bulova Annex and the Bulova building? That may be a good thing even if not the best.

The opportunity was lost two years ago to acquire at distressed prices the Hotel, its Annex (which remains damaged and vacant) and the long vacant Bulova Building to make way for the site being raze and developed as upscale residential condominiums. That would have produced real estate taxes and provided housing for young professionals and affluent ‘empty nesters’ who are part of the national trend back to downtown living.

We also wonder who are the “lien holders” and will they now be paid in full. Deja vu the PAM acquisition by Millersville University that bailed out Paul Weir who had personally guaranteed construction loans? (At taxpayers expense through the purchase, he was released from millions in liabilities and had his name put on the building. Millions invested in the school by others during his leadership as board chair went down the drain.)

Gray and Patterson turned their backs on what could have been the most exciting downtown project in the past fifty years. Was it arrogance in thinking a criminal defense attourney and a unsuccessful planner would not benefit from at least meeting with Field, or was their refusal otherwise motivated?

At least Charlie Smithgall would have listened.



  1. I suspect this is another example where government is too concerned about business and not the public.

    I remember years ago some city in NJ condemned residential property along the coast so that big business could build something like a mall or retail space. The residents fought and lost. Who wanted the new construction? Not the residents.

    I sure hope the city takes full responsibility for making the properties free of any chemicals or hazardous elements from the current owners. It would be a shame for the tax payers to have to pay for the industrial clean up.

    Somehow history keeps repeating itself.

  2. ALL decisions regarding bustling, vibrant downtown Lancaster start and stop with LNP and Dale High. The mayor and city council, the planners and everyone else are nothing more than pawns and puppets for the power elite. If and when; and only if and when, you have their blessings will you be assured of getting something done. And, more importantly, if you don’t have their blessing…well…………….we all know how that goes.

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