Lancaster Press Building offers best of city living

Upscale condos in refurbished factory attract residents from near and far

For John Thomas and Lori Herr, their new condo at Lancaster Press Building embodies the best of living in downtown Lancaster.

The historic former cigar factory and print company at the corner of Prince and Lemon streets is now the stylishly refurbished home of 48 upscale condos and a French- and Asian-inspired restaurant.

It’s also become the home of a diverse group of residents, say Richard Boas Jr. and Gretchen Karr of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty, listing agents for the building.

Some are from out of the area, looking for a place to retire or keep a second home. They are drawn by the city and county’s national media attention as a top destination.

Some are from the suburbs, looking for less maintenance and a more walkable lifestyle.

And some, like Thomas and Herr, are downtown residents who are excited to own a piece of its history and experience the city in a new and different way.

“It’s a really cool opportunity,” says Herr, who previously rented with Thomas in the city’s Historic East Side. “Lancaster has so many gems — old buildings that are just crying out to bring life back to them.”

For Herr, who worked in Lancaster in the late 1970s, at a time “when it wasn’t cool to be in the city,” to see downtown revitalized is a wonderful thing. And projects like the Press Building are a big part of it.

The building exudes industrial urban charm, perfectly marrying architectural elements of its century-old manufacturing history — like exposed brick walls and ductwork, large windows and cement columns — with high-end amenities.

“I love the brick and I love the concrete pillars, the way they took something old and created these beautiful spaces out of them,” Herr says. “The sweeping views of the city here are just amazing.”

Infusing a historic building with modern amenities is always a challenge, says Dana Clark of Tippetts/Weaver Architects, the project’s architect. The key, he says, is to understand and respect the features that define the character of the building, because they are often irreplaceable.

One of the building’s biggest challenges from a contractor’s standpoint — adapting the building to meet current codes — is also one of its biggest advantages, says Joe Duff, owner of Duff Builders, contractor for the condo units. It makes it impossible to create cookie cutter-type units.

“That makes it really cool,” Duff says, noting that no two units are exactly alike. But, they all allow the original character of the building to shine through.

“I like the high ceilings. I like the industrial look with the spiral ductwork throughout the units,” Duff says. “I like the overly large windows, and I really like the fact that the owner (Lancaster Press Partners) made the effort … to install balconies on most of the units. I think that really makes the building unique.”

What also makes each unit unique is the fact that many of them were purchased totally unfinished, allowing the buyers to fully create their own unique spaces.

“The standard (features) are excellent,” Boas says. “Hardwood flooring, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances. There have been residents who have just selected the standards and been perfectly happy, but the units can be customized to exactly suit a client’s tastes.”

Thomas and Herr toured 12 units before making a final decision, and they enjoyed the opportunity to “tweak” some things and have some fun, adding a built-in desk in the kitchen/dining area and designing a walk-in shower with a bench seat in the master bath.

Steve Sensenich and Russ Reed are just starting the process of creating their new home, but they’ve already gotten a taste of living at the Press Building. Since selling their single-family home in Mount Joy, the couple has been renting a former model unit in the building — and trying to resist the temptation to pop in daily to check on the progress of the sixth-floor unit that will become their permanent home in March.

They chose their unit because of its expansive southern view and the large, industrial-style skylight in the kitchen, and consider themselves fortunate to have gotten an unfinished condo before they sell out. The Press Building currently has only nine customizable units remaining, as well as nine finished units, all with unique floor plans and features.

Sensenich and Reed are truly starting from scratch, downsizing from a traditional 2,400-square-foot home to a 1,200-square-foot condo.

“We sold all of our furniture and brought our toothbrushes,” Steve jokes. “It’s a good challenge. We both like mixing the modern with the industrial.”

In addition to selling their furniture, they also plan to sell one of their cars, since Reed works downtown and can now walk to the office.

For those who keep their cars, the Press Building offers dedicated, secure parking only for residents on the first level of the North Queen Street Garage, with access from Market Street.

That was a selling point for John Thomas, a veteran of the hospitality industry who also appreciates the building’s attention to smaller details, like added stripping around each condo’s entry door as part of the extensive sound engineering that went into the building.

Among its other amenities, the Lancaster Press Building includes a fitness center and a rooftop terrace, featuring a green wall, grill and fire pit.

Of course, one of the building’s greatest amenities is the city itself.

“Downtown has come such a long way,” Karr says, noting the restaurants, galleries and events like First Friday. And the Press Building is within walking distance of all of it, as well as Central Market, Lemon Street Market and Clipper Magazine Stadium.

“You can come home, park your car in the garage and go out and have fun,” Thomas says. “If you would have told me 20 years ago I’d be living downtown, I would have told you you’re crazy.”

Adds Herr: “There’s no negative to living in the city. This building offers the very best there is to offer.”

The Lancaster Press Building currently has units ranging in size from 941 to 1,600 square feet, including one two bedroom unit with a study/optional third bedroom and a limited number of one-bedroom units.

The sales model is open from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and from 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday, including First Fridays.

For more information or to schedule a showing, visit lancasterpressbuilding.com, call listing agents Richard Boas Jr. and Gretchen Karr at 717-295-4663, or email pressbuilding@homesale.com.