As the York County History Center moves forward towards the adaptive reuse of the former Met-Ed steam plant as our new headquarters, the disposition of existing buildings is an essential component of the right-sizing process. Our goal to redirect resources away from $12M of deferred maintenance into programs, services and economic benefit for the region will be realized through this change.
In 1998 the History Center owned or stewarded six buildings with approximately 87,000 square feet, of which 19,000 were used for exhibits. After four successive mergers and the J.E. Baker building purchase, the organization ballooned to 196,000 square feet. In 2015 the Board of Directors embraced the strategic path currently underway.
Right-sizing began in February 2016 when the History Center sold its warehouse at 445 – 451 W. Clarke Avenue. This allowed the History Center to store collections in a more suitable environment as well as putting a 21,000 square foot property back on the City of York’s tax rolls.
The former J.E Baker property at 232 E. Market St. was recently sold (April 2017). The buyers’ plan for this 42,000 square foot property is to develop it as residential rental units, placing the property back on the tax rolls. All necessary zoning and land development approvals have been obtained by the buyer.
The Historical Society of York building, at 250 E. Market St., will be vacated in 2020 when the renovation of the Steam Plant property is complete. Conversations with potential buyers for this property have already begun. This building is in excellent condition with off street parking that makes it attractive for a number of uses.
Due to the size of our collections, including those at the Agricultural & Industrial Museum at 217 W. Princess St., the History Center will need space for long-term artifact storage. We have elected to use this building as longer term storage since it is less expensive to operate. We anticipate divesting the Agricultural & Industrial Museum after 2025.
What happens to the Agricultural & Industrial Museum building after 2025? The plan is to sell the building. We have three interested parties at the moment who are willing to wait. Potential uses may be residential or commercial/technology. We will continue to be good stewards of the building with proper maintenance and security to ensure it doesn’t become a blighted property.
What happens to the collections stored and exhibited there? Some of the collections will be moved into the new museum, library & archives in order to tell a cohesive York County History. Our goal is to move the entire collection to the History Center Campus when additional collections storage is built.
Throughout the right-sizing process, the History Center will continue to maintain and operate the General Gates House, Golden Plough Tavern and Bobb Log House, all of which are owned by the City of York.
The potential impacts of these changes to the city include:
- Clarke Avenue returned to the tax rolls, $4,500 annual income for the city and county.
- J.E. Baker building returns to tax rolls in 2017, creating an annual annuity of $25,000 in tax revenue.
- Historical Society Building, when sold, should generate $50,000 – $90,000 in tax revenue annually depending upon the assessed value.
- Agricultural & Industrial Museum should contribute $40,000 to $70,000 annually in taxes.
- Net Impact – Placing these non-taxed buildings onto the contributing building list provides tax revenue in the range of $120,000 to $190,000.
Operating from the Steam Plant location, with its proximity to the Colonial Complex, will allow the History Center to operate in a more economically sustainable manner and attract up to 50% more visitors to the museum, library & archives, contributing a substantial increase in economic benefit to the city and the county.