Article by Lancaster Online Staff Writer Larry Alexander
Mar 24, 2015
Read the original article here.
When it comes to risky projects that involve restoring deteriorating city buildings and bringing them back to useful and productive lives, John Meeder has one simple rule; never give up.
“I have no quit button,” Meeder said Monday during a presentation at the Manheim Township Public Library. “I will stay with something, sometimes longer than it makes financial sense to.”
Meeder, who has spearheaded big ticket revitalization projects in Lancaster for some 30 years, was keynote speaker at the Lancaster County Planning Commission’s Leadership Awards Program.
“Our purpose here is to highlight projects that have reflected both county and local comprehensive plans,” said James Cowhey, executive director of the county planning commission.
Top award went to LancasterHistory.org‘s Campus of History. Also recognized was the Lancaster City Hall expansion project and Lighten Up Lancaster, a partnership between Lancaster General Health and Lancaster Civil Engineering to fight obesity.
In his address, Meeder said he enjoys a challenge and that one of his virtues is that he never accepts “no” as an answer.
“I have a ‘no’ resistance factor,” he said.
Meeder revels in taking on the difficult.
“I love taking something that is a disaster and making it shine,” he said.
Meeder said that a successful project involves things like finding a vision that works, gathering the right backers and partners and financial creativity to fund the project.
Urban redevelopment is not for the faint of heart. Rather, it takes what Meeder calls “guts real estate.”
One such risk was the Historic East Side Suites at 141-159 E. King St. Completed in 2012, the project includes 17 apartments, 7 store fronts and 7,000-square-feet of office space.
“It’s just done a world of good for that block,” Meeder said.
Yet it took 11 years to complete and won’t see a cash return for seven years.
Most recently, Meeder and others purchased the former Brunswick Hotel. Renamed Hotel Lancaster, he said the hotel “has economic value” and “can help to rebuild the local economy.”
The challenge, he said, is that the hotel must be an economic driver and a source of city pride. More retail and restaurants must be added, and the 0 block of North Queen Street must be reconnected to the 200 and 300 blocks.
Another key element, Meeder said, is the “need to draw the 8 to 10 million tourists who visit the county into the city.”
Cowhey said Meeder, a past leadership award winner, was invited to speak because of what he has accomplished in preserving and reusing historic buildings.
“John’s a good example,” Cowhey said. “He’s done a lot of those projects.”
Lancaster County Commissioner Dennis Stuckey appreciated what Meeder has done for the county.
“John has done an excellent job in the area of revitalization,” Stuckey said. “He can take a property and look at it and have a new vision that some of us may not even see.”
Read the whole story here. (Article by Lancaster Online Staff Writer Larry Alexander)