A Pittsburgh developer with a track record of taking on run-down properties in Lancaster is the high bidder for the long-vacant Bulova building downtown.

David Martens, president of Zamagias Properties, confirmed the company had the winning bid in the auction that started Monday.

“We won’t own the building for another 30 days,” he said Wednesday.
The bid was about $1.65 million. At one point last year, PPM Real Estate was listing the building for $15.9 million.

Zamagias plans retail on the first floor, offices on the second and third floor and residential on the top floor of the 212,000-square-foot building.

“I am sure that there will be more in depth as we move farther along,” he said. “It’s tremendously exciting for the city.”

Mayor Rick Gray said it was a wish come true that something will finally be done with the property whose seven-year vacancy has thwarted development in the 100 block of North Queen Street.

“It’s extremely exciting. I hope they can close the deal,” he said.

Zamagias’ plans fit with what the city wants to see developed.

City officials had threatened to seize the property by eminent domain. But the city Redevelopment Authority dropped its efforts in July so the primary lender could market it.

In a request for proposal as part of eminent domain efforts, the city outlined its vision: “… retail or other active pedestrian uses in the first floor of the Bulova Building; entertainment uses, professional office space and residential development as for-sale or market rate apartments.”

Gray said having a developer of Zamagias’ stature shows promise for the Bulova.

Zamagias is the developer of the $9.5 million Keppel Building project at 323-329 N. Queen St. Zamagias also developed Steeple View Lofts at 118 N. Water St. for people age 55 and older. Its 36 apartments opened in May 2013.

The building has sat vacant since shortly after Bulova Technologies, which made electronic products for commercial and defense contractors there, abruptly closed in December 2008. The building opened as a Hess department store in 1971.

Various redevelopment plans, including a casino, have fallen through: Metro Bank had announced plans to open a $5 million regional headquarters there and the site had been considered for a federal courthouse.

The building’s owner is MSCI 2006-IQ11 North Queen Limited Partnership and based in Miami Beach, Florida, according to Lancaster County property records.

Read the full article from LancasterOnline here.