"Make no little plans...they have no magic to stir men's blood."
Daniel Burnham

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Redevelopment not for the Faint of Heart: The Cork Factory Hotel at Urban Place

Friday March 12th, I was giving a great opportunity to walk through the, the Cork Factory Hotel at Urban Place. The Cork Factory Hotel and the Restaurant, the Cork and Cap Restaurant, are finishing up a stage of an on going project on route 23 just north of the historic city of Lancaster, Pa. This project is a testament to the amount of time and energy that it takes to thoughtfully restore historic buildings. The project will pass the half way point of the development effort with the official opening of the hotel and restaurant, this coming after two years of work so far. Originally the Cork factory, which dated back to the 1880’s, stood alone but with the changing of the times more buildings were added, nine in all. Currently the development has several commercial tenants and residential loft units, as well as the Securus Group, which occupies the original building with the Science Factory. The compound of buildings are slated as one of “the largest privately funded development being done in the state” (http://www.lancastercityliving.org/index.php?pID=157)

One of the fears of the development is a possible failure in this uncertain economy; because it was privately funded the owner did not do any formal studies as to whether the area could support a development the size and magnitude of the urban place. But catering to the artsy community that down town Lancaster supports and the propensity for events in the area that can attract people to the area, such as the LPGA 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, I can only hope that this project is a success in the face of the slumping economy.

The hotel, which was in filled an existing factory building shell, overcame several design challenges pertaining to the existing structure of the building. Originally this factory needed a large open floor space for equipment and storage. To create the upper levels of the hotel the existing structure needed to seamlessly merge with the necessary structure for the floors of the hotel. This was accomplished by a single steel beam that ran across the length of the building. Each hotel room of this upper floor has a unique view of the existing structure as the wooden truss which supports the roof slices through the walls and bears on the brick shell. Small details like the brick exterior of the building and new but era conscious windows and furniture finish of the simple historic look of the rooms.

The Restaurant, connected to the hotel and operating on the first floor, creates a sense of sophisticated industrialism. The Restaurant, organized around a centralized bar area which plays with punched openings in a original bearing wall, contains several seating areas each with a unique affinity to the industrial movement, yet personal conversations are not effected by a full room. In a praise of the food, everything that I had for dinner was splendid, Fish and chips with an appetizer of chicken and waffle soup, filled me up plenty. If I closed my eyes I would have been transported to England except for the fact that the chicken in waffle soup brought a very real look at where I was Lancaster County. Other entrees I tried were equally stunning the Sirloin Steak very tender and filled with great flavor, the Chicken Florentine, and the Crab cakes also did not disappoint.

I encourage you all to check out not just this establishment but many of the other whole in the wall restaurants and cafes within the city limits. Enjoy the sweet success of redevelopment.