PA Gov. Schweiker Announces $2.6 Million For Ephrata’s Keystone Opportunity Zone

Mon October 28, 2002 - National Edition

Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, has announced $2.6 million in capital budget redevelopment assistance to the Ephrata Economic Development Corporation for the construction of a new luxury hotel and corporate office facility on the site of the former Mountain Springs Hotel.

The site is part of Ephrata’s Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ).

"Ephrata’s Keystone Opportunity Zone has excellent potential to be a major economic-development booster and jobs generator," Schweiker said. "This hotel will bring tourists to the area and keep them here longer. Tourism means jobs for Pennsylvanians – good jobs that will help us build stronger communities."

O’Brien Development Services Company LLC plans to develop the 70-room luxury hotel containing a 5,000-sq.-ft. restaurant, an indoor swimming pool and fitness center, and a 2,000-sq.-ft. banquet and meeting-room space.

"The Mountain Springs Hotel project is a wonderful example of all levels of government and the private sector working together in order to revitalize an otherwise blighted property," Sen. Noah Wenger (R-Lancaster) said. "I thank the Schweiker Administration for its leadership in this redevelopment project. It will be an asset to Ephrata and the surrounding community for many years to come."

The original Mountain Springs Hotel, built in 1812, occupies the 7.15-acre (2.9 ha) site. It is currently vacant and in poor condition. It has been determined that all of the existing structures, with the exception of the original mansion structure, cannot be renovated or reused because of structural integrity issues and deterioration. The developer will attempt to save the mansion facade and will design the remainder of the hotel to reflect the original architectural intent of the Mountain Springs Hotel.

The facade of the 30,000-sq.-ft. corporate office facility will fit the scale and character of the hotel, while the interior office space will be designed to meet all the latest technology needs of the modern corporate user.

The Ephrata Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) was formed to stimulate business in downtown Ephrata through the reinvestment in blighted and outdated buildings located in Ephrata Borough. The EEDC purchased the Mountain Springs Hotel with the intention of using any proceeds from this investment for future community enhancement projects.

The Mountain Springs Hotel property has been identified in various studies as a key property to assuring the continuing economic success of downtown Ephrata. Downtown stakeholders have viewed the Mountain Springs as one of Four Corners or Gateways to the central business district.

"The EEDC is hopeful that the Mountain Springs Hotel will once again become a focal point of Ephrata hospitality, with a small, upscale hotel, conference facilities and restaurants to serve the hotel and area clientele," Ephrata Borough Manager Gary Nace said.

KOZs are designed to revive economically distressed communities by reducing taxes to almost zero through credits, waivers and comprehensive deductions, with the tax abatements remaining in effect through 2010 with possible three-year extensions. The award-winning program -- which covers more than 37,000 acres 14,973 ha) -- has generated more than 202 economic-development projects, creating more than 10,000 new jobs and retaining more than 4,500 jobs statewide.

Since 1995, Pennsylvania families and employers have saved $19 billion through tax cuts, workers’ compensation reform, reduced red tape and electric deregulation. These savings have helped to create nearly 500,000 new jobs.

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