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The Porter Furniture Building Project: A Downtown Lancaster Success Story

The unique apartments of the Porter Furniture Building will standout for years to come — in a city already dotted with fantastic places to live. Inline Properties, a Lancaster County real estate development company, completed the top-to-bottom renovation of the Porter Furniture Building in the winter of 2016.

Converting the iconic Lancaster furniture warehouse into stylish apartment buildings was an impressive undertaking as well as a huge success. Read the story behind the renovation and learn how Union Community Bank can help you achieve similar success.

Porter Furniture Building: From Start to Finish

The Idea

Lancaster city boasts a storied history and a thriving downtown community. Contributing to a widely recognized “downtown renaissance,” businesses and residents alike are eager to be a part of the city’s vibrant culture. This renaissance has led to an increased demand for housing for people of all ages. Managing partner at Inline Properties, Steve Levin, recognized this as an opportunity to contribute to Lancaster’s rebirth.

Having seen the need for new residential space, Levin and his team set out into the “up and coming” section of the city. The potential that the vacant Porter Furniture Building held truly captivated Levin and his team. While many would drive past this building without a second glance, Levin couldn’t help but see its potential for so much more.

The Leader

Any business venture requires a leader with vision and perseverance. For the ambitious Porter Furniture Building project, Steve Levin contributed his drive as well as his unique vision.

As a child, Levin loved to take things apart and put them back together. “I liked seeing how things worked,” he says. “I’ve always had a great imagination.”

You could say his latest venture – the Porter Building Project – is a grown-up version of his beloved childhood hobby. Having sat vacant since the Porter Furniture business closed in 2010, the structure offered its share of challenges, but also more than its share of potential. And that’s what sparked Levin’s interest.

“I knew that we could build something groundbreaking here that would serve the community,” Levin says.

The Building

Located at 626 Columbia Avenue, the stately brick structure was constructed in 1902 and served the Lancaster Cigar & Tobacco Company for several decades. From 1979 to 2010, the four story building was the home to the Porter Furniture company.

“I had been looking for the right property for a long, long time,” Levin says. “The Porter Furniture Building had so much going for it.”

The classically-styled 40,000 square foot building possessed the perfect combination of attractive structure and a central location that would make the apartments a commodity. Levin knew that if he followed his vision, this project would be a success, and he knew that he would make a lasting contribution for his city as well.

Porter Furniture Building Inside Apartment
Open-plan living space reflects today’s tastes.

The Porter Furniture Building has 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments for lease. Created with young professionals in mind, the apartments feature amenities like dishwashers, microwaves, and self-cleaning ovens. The building has an onsite laundromat, security cameras, private parking, card entry systems, and is ADA compliant.

The Financial Partner

When planning an undertaking of this size, Levin knew he needed to work with a bank he could trust.  That’s where Craig Portner, Commercial Loan Officer for Union Community Bank, became involved.

Levin’s realtor mentioned Union Community Bank as a potential lender for the Porter Building Project. The realtor said they would be committed to the project and would always prove easy to work with.

Looking back, Levin can confirm that description. “They made it so easy,” he says. “They truly were a fantastic partner.”

From the application process to some timeline and budget changes in the latter stages of the project, Union Community Bank proved most helpful, knowledgeable, and committed to the development of this plan.

Cooperation is part of the bank’s core philosophy. “We always take a collaborative approach,” says Portner. “Our exclusive focus on this region gives us a level of understanding and engagement that other banks can’t always deliver.”

The Community Bank Difference

Those shared values, in part, are what made the Porter Building Project a great success. “We have a lot of experience with this kind of project,” Portner says. “From the bank board to the loan officers and bank associates, we all live in this area. So we’re familiar with local rents, rates, and neighborhoods.”

That helped the bank recognize opportunity, he says, that other banks might overlook. “We knew the demand was there,” he says. “It was a good plan.”

The new 24-unit apartment building now provides moderately-priced housing where it’s needed most. “It’s a win-win-win,” Portner says. “It’s good for the city to update a vacant structure and create in-demand housing. It’s good for Steve, the investor. And it’s good for the bank, because we know it’s a strong investment in our community.”

Business Banking with Union Community Bank

If you and your business are ready to take that great idea and turn it into a reality, you need to work with a bank you can trust. Union Community Bank is one of the last remaining community banks in Lancaster County. We are invested in local businesses and have the know-how you need to make any project succeed. When you work with Union, you don’t just have a bank – you have a partner.

Learn more about the business loans and business services we can offer your business. The Union Main Street Business Banking Team has the experience, expertise, and passion needed to help you achieve your goals.

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