Just across the Codorus Creek from the heart of York’s downtown, a steady line of traffic regularly passes through the 200 block of West Philadelphia Street, following the turn of the street uphill past smartly painted homes and storefronts.
Growing up in York more than three decades ago, Steve Billet knew the area colloquially as the “colonial block.” It was a place that had a good reputation and housed property that was a wise investment for owners, he said.
On a Monday in March, however, many of the cars that idled at a nearby stoplight would continue on West Philadelphia without stopping. The idea that the city has nothing to offer has plagued York’s image and dissuaded business owners for years, and many entrepreneurs have struggled to make their shop a destination.
Still, when Billet had an opportunity to purchase a building in the 200 block in 1999, he took it. And when he and his partner David Smith decided to drop out of the rat race — as Smith puts it — to switch careers and return to the city, they settled on the spot that Billet had bought a decade and a half before as the site of their new venture.