Big plans for 55 N. Water St.

By on June 28, 2017

Retail shops and luxury apartments on the way

New retail shops and apartments are soon coming to 55 N. Water St.

Downtown isn’t the only hub in Lititz.

A few blocks away at 55 N. Water St., where Appalachian Brewing Company is already a destination and Beers + Hoffman architects have settled in nicely, growth is in the works.

Tim and Donna Bollinger, who bought the brick industrial complex from Paul Brown last year, have unveiled plans for new retail shops and upscale apartments to fill out the building in the coming months.

The first retail business, Forever Home Company, moves into the first floor next month, with a grand opening planned for July 14. This locally-owned business specializes in re-purposed furniture, home decor, and hand-crafted items.

That’s only the beginning for the Water Street additions, as five more first floor shops are ready to be leased, and by mid-August four third floor apartments will be ready for tenants.

“We’re in the process of bringing the building back to life,” said Tim Bollinger, general partner with 55 N. Water St. LLC. “We’re excited to have our first official tenant coming in and having their grand opening.”

Bollinger purchased the building last June and has been making plans, obtaining permits, and renovating the structure since then.

“It was bought as an investment, and we saw the potential of getting the building fully occupied,” he said.

Bollinger is part owner of the MVE Group, a company that specializes in electrical, LED, security, and solar solutions.

Most of the renovation work has centered on the third floor apartments, which will be upper scale with amenities such as central air, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances.

Initially, the third floor will consist of four apartments, a mixture of “Airbnb” and long-term rentals.

Five other first floor retail spaces, ranging in size from 150 to 750 square feet, are ready to lease.

“We went through the process of refreshing the downstairs, sprucing up and painting,” Bollinger said.

As a lifelong resident of Lititz and a local businessman, the success of the community is very important to Bollinger, and the centrally-located Water Street building has the potential to be a hub of activity.

The history of the building dates back to the early 1900s when it was a box factory. In the early 1980s, Clair Brothers and Tait Towers used it for studio space, and locals would occasionally see the likes of Mike Score, lead singer of the new wave band A Flock of Seagulls, in the vicinity. Entrepreneur Paul Brown eventually purchased the building and put his own distinctive stamp on it, creating a restaurant on the second floor and adding a quilt museum, memorabilia museum, and a row of first floor shops that replicated an old-time streetscape.

It was Brown who extensively renovated the building, turning it into a three-story structure, and using the third floor apartment for his own living area.

“Bus groups would stop to tour the museums,” Bollinger said. “His passion is antiques and older memorabilia.”

Brown took unused store fronts, dismantled them and rebuilt them in the Water Street building, Bollinger said.

“It was very unique,” he said. “It looks as though you’re walking through Main Street.”

Brown started with the former Kready’s general store in Manheim, moving most of its contents into the Water Street building.

“Paul bought the store lock, stock, and barrel, and used it to create the anchor for his building,” Bollinger said. “The shop had never been updated; it was right out of the past.”

About 10 years later, Brown closed the restaurant and shops, and the building stood empty until 2012, when the Appalachian Brewing Company moved into the second-floor restaurant area.

“The building just kind of sat there empty until they moved in,” Bollinger said.

By 2014, architects Beers + Hoffman leased part of the third floor.

“The building was 60 percent occupied when we bought it, and the rest of the space was sitting empty,” Bollinger said. “We have two anchor tenants, and they’ll be staying, but we want to fill the remaining 40 percent to really bring it back to life.”

Taking up most of the second floor, the Appalachian Brewing Company is considering expanding into the former second-floor museum area to be able to offer banquet space for customers, Bollinger said. No definite plans have been made for that expansion at this time.

Marylouise Sholly is a freelance feature writer and occasional contributor to the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback at weezsholly@verizon.net.

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