York Town Square

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The name’s Bond. Bond Building. Will it have a productive future?

The Bond building or the Bond Sanitary Products building, as it still known, has been the scene of a couple of significant pieces of York County history. And now, empty for some years, the King and Queen street structure faces a new use connected to York’s future: It’s part of a growing arts community.


The cavernous building served as a Studebaker dealership in the 1920s. One directory of York dealerships  in 1930-31 lists the Anderson Motor Co., King and Queen streets, as seller of  Cadillacs, Lasalles, Studebakers and Erskines. It was a time that sellers of automobiles and other vehicles had large in-town buildings. The old Stetler Dodge dealership is now the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center, and an old Hudson dealership houses Exchange City. The York County Heritage Trust’s 250 E. Market St. museum is J.W. Richley’s former Buick dealership. So Bond was a pioneering York County auto dealer Will the old building of this groundbreaking auto dealership have a productive future in pioneering the arts?

charretteX00111_9The Bond Building was the site of the York Charrette in 1970, an event described as a type of civic group therapy. In his scholarly study of the York Charrette, Raul Urrunaga credited the multi-event, mixed-race event for heading off another summer of riots. Violence in the summers of 1968-69 expedited the demise of retailing in York’s downtown. The city’s efforts to foster an arts community in the Bond Building and the Arts (also Market) District are attempts to rebuild energy and restock resources drained by the flight of businesses and residents to the suburbs in the late 1960s and 1970s.


All this past brings us to the present – and maybe the future. Developers are looking at the Bond Building as the foundation of a neighborhood development project that will be leaning heavily on the arts community.  The Royal Square project draws its name from the neighborhood around Queen, Princess, Duke and King streets. The Bond Building is envisioned to offer wedding and other event space, plus co-working areas and artist studios. Two interesting ideas emerge here: The neighborhood extends the arts district to a distinct section of the city beyond the Market District. And a feature of the Bond Building that made it attractive as the Charrette site – its easy access to the suburbs plus available parking – may play a role in attracting regional visitors to Royal Square.


The Royal Square arts district is growing along East King Street, west of the Bond Building. In choosing the Royal Square theme, developers are drawing on a time-honored marketing concept in downtown York: A play on a Colonial theme, long connected to Continental Congress’ visit to York in 1777-78. York’s Independent League baseball team, the York Revolution, chose a similar path, as one example. The Revs play in a stadium, which interestingly, stands within easy walking distance from Royal Square.

Inside the Bond Building, developers tell about plans for Royal Square, The Parliament and other projects with British brands.
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Co-work and studio space dots York City outside the Royal Square and Market districts. As one example, a French/York studio exchange connects artists, as reflected in this scene in The Avenues’ home of Paul Kicklighter and Rebecca Cook. ‘Art decorates the walls of their Linden Avenue home,’ a FlipsidePa.com story states. ‘Out back, there is a work and studio space.’ Will such scenes in the Bond Building, Royal Square and elsewhere gain traction and present a productive future path for York City?