Developer weighs new project in Lancaster area

High Real Estate Group LLC is taking the first step toward building a mixed-use development next to the suburban headquarters of Armstrong World Industries in Manor Township, Lancaster County.

  • High has struck an agreement with Armstrong World to buy 476 acres south and west of the manufacturer’s campus, which sits off Columbia Avenue west of Lancaster city.
  • Terms of the transaction, expected to close in late 2024, were not disclosed.
  • “Our vision is to deliver a high-quality, mixed-use development which includes thoughtful placemaking, natural areas and open spaces that enhances the overall community,” Mark Fitzgerald, president and COO of High Real Estate, said in a statement.

What’s the vision: A mix of industrial, commercial, retail and residential spaces, according to High Real Estate spokesperson Krista Merkel.

  • The details, however, will depend on market demand and economic conditions, according to the company, which said it would take about 12 to 14 months to develop a master plan for the property in collaboration with township officials and other local stakeholders.
  • “We are in the early stages of our due diligence process,” Merkel said. 
  • The land is currently zoned industrial, meaning the allowable uses include warehousing, manufacturing, and research and development, among others.
  • Merkel said the company is working with the township to expand the allowable uses, and she noted the potential to create affordable, workforce housing, which is in short supply in the region.

What about Armstrong: The manufacturer of ceilings and walls employs about 600 workers at its headquarters campus, said company spokesperson Theresa Womble.

  • Portions of the campus are empty, however, following the departure of the former Armstrong Flooring, which split off from Armstrong World in 2016.
  • Armstrong Flooring moved to High Real Estate’s Greenfield development in East Lampeter Township in 2021 before going bankrupt in 2022.
  • Armstrong World has no plans to move, Womble said.
  • “Our campus is an important asset for us,” she said. “It’s a beautiful place to work for our employees and we have long-range plans about how best to use all the buildings on our campus. We remain committed to growth as a company and expect to grow in Lancaster.”

The trend: Rising interest rates have inflated the cost of any new development over the last year.


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