Tuesday, March 10, 2009

City grants SACA $200,000 for River Plaza planning

By Cliff B. Lewis

Lancaster’s Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) was granted a $200,000 boost from the City tonight for their proposed Conestoga River Plaza on a 5.7 acre riverside tract near the intersection of Chesapeake and South Duke St., adjoining the Lancaster County Park.

The grant will be used towards a six-month design and engineering phase for the commercial, residential, and environmental aspects of the prospective project.

Carlos Graupera, SACA’s Executive Director, expressed to the Council that this planning phase would aim to gather good ideas and reject unfeasible ones: "It will try to rule out all those things that will not work—that are not feasible—in the vision." Graupera also mentioned that the development process will involve an opportunity for neighborhood residents to share their ideas and concerns for the project.

After completion of the design and engineering phase, the plan will be submitted to the State for environmental clearance. The site, upon which presently stands the abandoned Miguel’s Nightclub, was once used as a landfill and an auto-parts dump; however, Graupera indicated that early analysis has shown that the site should be safe for development.

The Conestoga River Plaza proposes to include a bank, a community grocery store, retail stores, a full service restaurant, gallery and performance space, and townhouses along the river.

According to SACA’s website, the Plaza is intended to "begin a process of economic development in the southeast quadrant of the city of Lancaster that will create new investment, create jobs, and stimulate this long neglected quadrant of the city to become a vibrant part of the Lancaster community with its own unique cultural and ethnic flavor."

The John F. Steinman Foundation allowed for the site to be put under an option agreement. Funding from the Foundation allowed also for the Phase I and II environmental studies to occur.

The Community First Fund, the High Group, and the City of Lancaster were all part of the financing package that allowed for settlement to proceed.

More information about SACA’s plan for the Conestoga River Plaza can be found at