Lancaster City Alliance Economic Development Plan Looks At Whole City

The Lancaster City Alliance wants to see $1 billion in private investment in the city over the next 15 years.

It’s one of the many goals — both specific and broad — of the economic development strategic plan the alliance put together to foster the city’s growth over the next 10-15 years.

The plan will be released to the public Thursday evening at the Ware Center.

Bob Shoemaker, Alliance president, and Marshall Snively, its executive vice president, talked with LNP’s editorial board about the year-long process on Thursday.

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First Friday In Lancaster City Draws Thousands To Downtown For Food, Music and Shopping

Another great First Friday in Lancaster City.  The day appeared to possibly be “iffy” weather wise but despite some ominous looking clouds at one point in the afternoon, the sky cleared in the early evening and the sun came back out.

There were a bevy of food trucks on the plaza next to the Hotel Lancaster. Musicians lined the streets. The pianos are back and we didn’t pass one that somebody was playing.  We even heard some very good jazz being played in Lancaster Square.  People from many cultures mingled and enjoyed the entertainment, shopping, eating and warmer weather.  The Lancaster Police Department was present along with the Ambassadors ensuring everyone behaved themselves.  There was even a break dancing competition going on next to the food trucks that drew a very large crowd.

We also checked out the new pop up pocket park on Prince Street before the First Friday throng arrived. What a nice thing for tourists and city residents, alike.  A coffee company and an ice cream vendor (selling Carmen & David’s ice cream) have set up shop here.  The park makes use of a parking lot which eventually will be a boutique hotel.  The asphalt was been painted, trees and flowers and seating were added.  There was even a television crew there from Blue Ridge Cable TV who were filming and interviewing the vendors.  Many people were checking this out.  When we went by much later in the day it was very full!  People were really liking the space!

Lancaster is such a great example of what revitalization can do for a downtown.  Up until the 90’s there was no reason go to downtown (other than Central Market).  Now, it’s full of shops and restaurants. There are always people on the streets taking advantage of all downtown has to offer.  There is nothing better than spending time in a vibrant city!

To check out Passenger Coffee Roasters, click on

Prince Street Park Pops Up In Downtown Lancaster Parking Lot

Coffee and ice cream vendors

Coffee and ice cream vendors

A new park just popped up in downtown Lancaster.

The Prince Street Park will have its full unveiling Friday in downtown Lancaster in part of a parking lot at 118 N. Prince St.

The temporary park will be open through Labor Day weekend next to the building where construction will begin this fall on The Surveyor Hotel, a 60-room urban boutique hotel.

The 2,300-square-foot park features Passenger Coffee Roaster’s Airstream Coffee Bar and Penny’s, an ice cream truck serving Carmen & David’s Ice Cream.

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There’s A New Kind Of Heroin Called Amtrak, And Drug Dealers Are Pushing It In Lancaster, Police Say

Two Lancaster men were caught transporting a large amount of heroin into the county from Philadelphia, police say. And the drug was a new blend called “Amtrak” that’s been prevalent in the area.

Martin Ortiz, 37, of 505 Dauphin St., and Luis Antonio Aponte-Ortiz, 39, 504 New Dauphin St., Apt. 1, both were charged with possession with intent to deliver heroin and criminal conspiracy after a vehicle stop May 28 in Gap, according to Lancaster County Drug Task Force officials.

Investigators, armed with search warrants for Ortiz and his vehicle, stopped the car at Routes 30 and 41.

In the vehicle, officials said they found a plastic grocery bag behind the driver’s seat containing 21 “bricks” of heroin labeled “Amtrak.”

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Lancaster City Seeks Proposals For Bulova Building, Adjacent City Property

Lancaster city is formally seeking proposals for the vacant Bulova building and adjacent city-owned property in hopes of connecting a stagnant part of downtown.

The city intends to use eminent domain to take the Bulova building at North Queen and East Orange streets. That means the city would pay fair market value for the property and the building’s lien holders would then be paid.

The city issued requests for proposals on Friday.

Randy Patterson, the city’s economic development and neighborhood revitalization director, said the property is in a critical location downtown.

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Lancaster City Zoners Grant Variances For Lancaster General Hospital $60M Expansion

Lancaster General Health has received variances from city regulations that will enable its planned $60 million expansion of Lancaster General Hospital to move ahead.

With little discussion and no public opposition, the Lancaster Zoning Hearing Board on Monday approved variances to building height and setback requirements.

The county’s largest health care provider wants to expand the Stauffer building on the northeast corner of the hospital at Lime and Frederick streets to eight floors, putting in 66 private rooms.

Joseph Puskar, an LGH senior vice president, said the hospital is responding to changes in the health care industry.

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Lancaster Ranked No. 1 Place To Be A Teacher In The U.S.

Education majors who graduated from Millersville University this month don’t have to look far to find an awesome place to work.

Lancaster is the best city in the country to be a teacher, according to a South Carolina-based data analysis and scholarship search company.

GoodCall created its list of the top 10 places to be a teacher based on average annual teacher salary, available teaching jobs, teaching jobs per capita, high school graduation rates, cost of living and amenities. It used data from the U.S. Census,, the National Center for Education Statistics, and

The average teacher salary for Lancaster is $60,370, and there were 70 teaching jobs available as of May 6, according to GoodCall. Those figures refer to public and private schools in the city, according to Carrie Wiley, GoodCall’s public relations manager.

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Lancaster Businesses Find CRIZ Paperwork Cumbersome, Time-Consuming

Downtown business people say they support Lancaster’s City Revitalization & Improvement Zone, or CRIZ.

But boy, they sure wish the paperwork were less of a hassle.

“The process is very painful,” said David Leaman, senior manager of finance for the Isaac’s restaurant chain, which has its headquarters and one of its restaurants in the CRIZ.

Moirajeanne FitzGerald, who owns Here to Timbuktu on North Prince Street, says, “The CRIZ paperwork is cumbersome. The directions are difficult to understand.”

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#1In the fall of 2008 Ron Garza, chef-proprietor of Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine on High Street in Pottstown, was scouting locations to realize his dream of opening a fine dining restaurant.  Classical guitarist Russell Ferrara was, at that time, in the eighth year of disability from his lifelong music career. He was taking baby steps, post spinal surgery, to reactivate his performance activities.  He had just accepted an invitation join the music faculty of the soon to be opened Steel River Playhouse.

In early 2009 Ferrara began to notice construction activity at the northwest corner of High and Penn Streets just three doors down from Steel River Playhouse.  Spring brought signage which indicated that the storefront was becoming a Mexican restaurant. When work was nearly complete he walked in unannounced and began playing amidst the construction. Garza hired him on the spot and the two have remained close since.  Ferrara returned to Juan Carlos on Friday nights a few weeks ago after an eight-month absence during which he was on the road with his group Lackawanna Sky featuring Native American Flute player David Rose. Lackawanna Sky broke out at the April 2014 Launch Festival in Lancaster, PA where they were signed by Spirit Wind Records.  They subsequently toured in Georgia and Wisconsin, returning to PA to perform at the Kipona and Spirit of Oneness festivals in Harrisburg and in a continuing series of weekend performances in the Central Market of Lancaster. They are finishing up their first album and will return to Georgia in June.  Surprisingly, Ferrara credits much of this success to his tenure at Juan Carlos.

“I was introduced to the Native American flute at Juan Carlos,” Ferrara states. “On a quiet night I noticed a woman had lingered long past dessert. She approached me asking if I could wait ten minutes until she returned. She returned with a case full of flutes, chose one, announced the key and off we went!”  Within three weeks, the duo had made a demo and been accepted to perform at the 2010 International Native American Flute Association festival.”  That partnership did not work out long term but the recordings circulated and came to the attention of David Rose of Elizabethtown. Ferrara again: “David contacted me in June of 2013 as I was leaving for a tour with Candace Keach, Principal Flute of the Macon Symphony. Not long after I returned David and I gave our first ever performance at Juan Carlos.”

For his part, Garza was busy during Ferrara’s absence as well. Juan Carlos was nominated in two categories of the WPHL 17 ‘Hot List’ competition.  Garza brought home a win in the “Best Mexican” category as well as a second place in the “Best BYOB” category.  In addition, Garza collaborated with Steve Armstrong of Armstrong Ales in East Pikeland to create the first ever Mexican-style lager brewed in Pennsylvania.  Garza credits Ferrara with lending a hand in the first year the restaurant was open. “I guess we were a little green when we first opened.” Garza stated. “Russ introduced me to Anthony Bellapigna of sister restaurants Ariano and Fellini’s in Media, PA.  We met with him on a night that Russ was playing at Ariano.  Anthony helped me to streamline the menu.  He sent one of his best managers to Juan Carlos and made lots of great suggestions. Russ has been with me since the beginning.”

The two often talk about their goals and display a genuine regard for each other’s artistry. “I’m a foody,” Ferrara states. “My father owned restaurants and cooking is my hobby. I immediately noticed the passion and creativity that Ron displays in the kitchen.” Garza’s response to that was simply, “Yes, Russ and I are the same in that way.”

Juan Carlos, 235 E High St. Pottstown is open 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday. Catering is available anytime in the Wine Cellar.  Ferrara holds forth every Friday night.

$60 Million Expansion Planned For Lancaster General Hospital

Lancaster County’s largest health care provider announced this morning that it is planning a six-story, $60 million expansion of its flagship facility, Lancaster General Hospital.

The expansion would enable the hospital to provide all private patient rooms, Lancaster General health said in a news release.

The LG Health Board of Trustees is scheduled to make a final decision on the project at its May meeting, according to the release. Work completed thus far is in anticipation of trustee and municipal approvals, it said, “to enable construction to begin as early as this summer.”

“Among LGH’s current 533 inpatient beds, 142 are located in semi-private rooms,” the release said. “LG Health plans to expand onto the northeast corner of the hospital, near Lime and Frederick streets.”

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Lancaster, Strasburg Among Top 10 Most Beautiful Towns In Pennsylvania

WP_20150413_15_01_39_ProThe folks at the Culture Trip recently released its guide to the 10 most beautiful towns in Pennsylvania, and two of their choices are located here in Lancaster County.

Related: Central Market among top 10 fresh markets in the world

Lancaster city was lauded for its “unique shops and boutiques, a plethora of outstanding restaurants and a beautiful countryside,” while Strasburg was recognized for its railroad attractions and its countryside, which was described as “rich in history and beauty.”

Related: Lancaster dog park tops list of 10 best amazing dog parks in U.S.

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Lancaster City Posts Walkability Study Online

Lancaster city has posted online the walkability study an urban planner prepared for the city as part of efforts to make the city more pedestrian-friendly.

You can read Jeff Speck’s 131-page analysis by following this link here.

LNP will be delving into the study, as well as getting reaction from city officials and other stakeholders as they get a chance to read it.

Mayor Rick Gray told city Council Tuesday night the city will “review policy recommendations contained in the report and implement those that are feasible, prudent and affordable.

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Route 222 North Between Route 322 And Adamstown Now Open

Route 222 North has been reopened after closing for more than an hour between Route 322 and the Adamstown exit, state police said.

It was closed between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to allow police to further investigate Sunday’s police pursuit and shooting along the highway, they said.

Northbound motorists were detoured to Route 322 West and Route 272 North.

Charges have been filed against the man who led officers from multiple police departments on a high-speed pursuit, rammed a police car head-on and drove his SUV directly at officers on foot Sunday morning on Route 222.

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Young Gang Busted: Thieves Sentenced For Targeting Homes With Sleeping Occupants

More than a dozen young males and females have been sentenced for their roles in a spree of Lancaster home burglaries and thefts in 2013.

The group, 14 people in all, targeted city homes with residents asleep inside during the three-month spree.

They stole cash, credit cards, and cars.

Their ages, roles and sentences varied, with the youngest being a 15-year-old girl and the oldest a 20-year-old man.

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Fly Magazine Keep South Central Pennsylvania Up To Date On Entertainment, Dining and Nightlife is a great site to visit if you live in or visit Lancaster, York or Harrisburg.  Keeps you up to date on what’s going on, events, dining, music and arts and culture.  Happy Friday!

Lancaster City Council Approves Vegan Bar

Come mid-May, Lancaster city should have its first vegan bar and restaurant.

City council on Tuesday unanimously approved a liquor license transfer that paves the way for restaurateur Rob Garpstas to open root (The “r” is lower case) at 223 West Walnut Street.

Council approved the transfer following a brief public hearing that included a recommendation from Mayor Rick Gray for approval. No one opposed the transfer, which had been in Ruby Tuesday Inc.’s name, but was being held in safekeeping by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Gray wondered if there were many vegan bars around. Vegans do not eat or use animal products.

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John Legend Coming To County For Lancaster Chamber’s Annual Dinner

International singing and songwriting star John Legend will be the keynote speaker at The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s 143rd annual dinner, the chamber said Friday.

The event will be held Wednesday, May 27 at the Lancaster County Convention Center from 5 to 9 p.m.

Legend will talk about the importance of giving back to the community, including his own effort to support quality education, the Show Me Campaign, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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Change At The Top: Isaac’s Restaurant Leaders Talk About Year Of Transition

LANCASTER, PA – For 30 years, Phil Wenger was the guiding force behind Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches.

He grew it from a single restaurant in downtown Lancaster to a regional chain with 18 locations, 550 employees and $20 million in annual sales.

But a year ago today, Wenger stepped away from Isaac’s at age 55, handing control and the title of president and CEO to D. Michael Weaver.

It wasn’t an obvious choice.

While Wenger had been open about not wanting to sell Isaac’s to an outside restaurant company, his chosen successor had zero experience in the industry.

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Authority: Lancaster Will Need More Parking In Several Years

The Lancaster Parking Authority is about maxed-out on parking offerings, according to its executive director.

And the authority will need to add parking in several years to meet higher anticipated demand, according to Larry Cohen. So now’s the time to start planning.

The demand will come — in part — from a 96-room hotel planned next to the Lancaster County Convention Center, more and larger conventions that are anticipated at the center and other economic development, according to a report Cohen put together.

Cohen said he thinks there’s a misperception that there’s an abundance of parking because of the number of parking garages in the city.

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