As anyone familiar with downtown Lancaster has probably noticed, there’s been a spate of big-ticket expansions and revitalization projects lately.
Seven major projects costing $160 million, not to mention numerous smaller ones, have been started, completed or proposed in the past three years, dramatically altering the face and vitality of center-city.
With all that activity, the fact that another of these big ventures is progressing from concept to construction might not spark the same public appreciation as it would if it was a rarity.
But business-sector leader Lisa Riggs said the latest project to get underway — Fulton Financial’s $21 million headquarters expansion — still should generate excitement in the community.
Riggs, president of the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, said Monday at the 23 E. King St. project’s groundbreaking:
“This investment is a huge economic gift to Lancaster. It’s a major anchor, a local company recognized for its commitment of community service, reinvesting and expanding, adding hundreds of professional service workers to the core of our downtown.
“Most communities across the country covet this sort of activity. And the cool thing for us here in Lancaster is, it seems like a natural. This is a continuation of a trend, a continued commitment to the momentum we’ve seen for over a decade in our community. I hope we’re not taking it for granted,” Riggs said.
Riggs urged the community to “extend a heartfelt congratulations” to Fulton Financial for undertaking the project, noting that “in communities large and small across the country … this is the exact type of activity that (they) work really, really hard for.”
Fulton Financial, a financial services holding company, and its largest affiliate, Fulton Bank, are constructing a 60,000-square-foot addition with space for 400 employees.
The three-story building, to be completed in early 2019, will be bounded by East King, North Christian and East Grant streets. A pedestrian bridge across North Christian Street will connect the new structure to the existing building.
“We remain committed to supporting the vitality of this city,” said Phil Wenger, Fulton Financial chairman and CEO to about 50 people gathered for the groundbreaking.
A vacant Subway restaurant on the corner will be razed. A new Subway will be incorporated into the Fulton Financial addition.
Fulton Financial “will do everything it possibly can” to keep both lanes of East King Street open during construction, said spokeswoman Stacey Karshin.
Diagonally across the street, the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square is expanding, but both lanes past the site remain open, though shifted, and on-street parking eliminated.
On occasion, Fulton Financial will temporarily close one lane to bring equipment onto the site, or for other reasons, but those closures will be as brief as possible and done during off-peak hours, she said.
Eight years of planning
Fulton Financial has pondered the expansion for eight years. Initially, it proposed a six-story addition in 2010. Two years later, the company proposed an eight-story version.
After clearing and excavating the site, Fulton Financial put the project on hold — filling the excavated site — while it reviewed its space needs. The current, smaller version was unveiled last year.
Fulton Financial joins six other sizable downtown ventures. Completed are the redevelopment of the Lancaster Press ($18 million) and Keppel ($9.5 million) buildings. Underway is the Marriott addition ($39.4 million) and the Bulova building redevelopment ($28.5 million). Proposed is a Hotel Lancaster makeover ($23.4 million) and a Fulton Theatre expansion ($20 million).