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The future of the vacant downtown Lancaster lot that was home of the Belk store for many years remains up in the air.
One potential buyer approached the city of Lancaster to buy the lot, but the deal didn't pan out, Mayor Joe Shaw said.
The city spent about $400,000 to demolish the building after it was deemed a public hazard by an engineering firm last year. The city then took ownership of the lot.
Some local leaders had pitched the site as a logical choice for a welcome center/office complex that would house See Lancaster, Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and Lancaster County Economic Development Corp., and possibly a children's museum, to bring more people downtown.
But now the city and Lancaster County have committed to split the cost of lots where the Perry Texaco station and the Mullis Brothers Real Estate building now stand along North Main Street in downtown. The selling price is $675,000 and the city and county have made a $25,000 down payment.
The anticipated use for the land is the proposed welcome center, though Shaw says the city still has other options on where the center could be located.
"The Belk site is still not off the table for the welcome center," he said.
Shaw and City Councilmen John Howard and Bill Sumner comprise the city's Belk building site committee.
The old Belk building site has other potential uses, possibly appealing to an entrepreneur looking to build a restaurant or office building, Shaw said.
He's pleased with how plans for the welcome center project are moving and said the amount of progress made in the past year is satisfactory.
"The thing is moving," he said. "Sometimes it takes years to do these things."
In the past, See Lancaster Executive Director Frank Keel promoted building a welcome center at the old Belk site. He pitched the idea of a multi-level building, with the first floor serving as a children's museum and welcome center, the second floor as office space for See Lancaster, the chamber and the development group and the third floor as rental office space.
But he has no qualms with a welcome center at the other downtown lot. He's glad the project appears to be moving forward.
"I think the bottom line is, we'll be happy wherever," Keel said.
Contact Johnathan Ryan at 416-8416 or email@example.com