Lancaster Parking Authority approves art design for façade of Christian Street parking garage | News

A downtown Lancaster public art project that’s been long in the making is a step closer to becoming a reality.

The four-member board of the Lancaster Parking Authority on Thursday voted to approve the artwork design for the façade of the Christian Street parking garage at Ewell Plaza.

The design by Miami-based R&R Studios was selected by the public in September 2021. Titled “The New Lancaster Rainbow,” it received the most votes out of three designs.

“Now we have to put a team together to start the next phase of engineering and construction,” said executive director Larry Cohen.

The road to the final design hasn’t been without controversy.

The city’s Historical Commission strongly objected to the initial design in 2019, eventually recommending Lancaster City Council reject it. When the City Council approved the art project, it attached several conditions the artists had to meet, including more public input.

In 2019, a group that included artists, an architect and a former Lancaster city mayor took the city to court over the artists’ initial design. In a statutory appeal filed in the Lancaster Court of Common Pleas, the group argued City Council committed “an abuse of discretion” in granting a certificate of appropriateness to the project. The appeal was denied.

The public art is only one component of the Ewell Plaza project. At an estimated cost of $33 million to $34 million, the project includes the 325-spot Christian Street garage, the Lancaster Public Library and two retail storefronts. The project is expected to open March 1.

The $600,000 cost of the art façade, which includes $78,000 for design fees, is incorporated into the total cost of the garage project, according to Cohen.

Cohen remains cautiously optimistic about the art façade staying within the budget given the increases in construction materials prices.

“The final pricing will be given in the coming months after the project is bid,” Cohen said.

Cohen also said he expects the public art project to be completed in fall 2022.

Ewell Plaza was officially renamed in August 2019 after Barney Ewell, a McCaskey High School graduate and gold-medal-winning Olympic sprinter. The site, in the 100 block of North Queen Street, was formerly known as Lancaster Square.