The co-owner of York industrial design company Salvaging Creativity had just finished one of the five new functional art pieces unveiled November 2010 on Beaver Street.
Passersby stopped to snap photos of a bench made with a metal gear and wooden floor supports. Down the street, an evergreen grew out of a planter made of funnels salvaged from a coffee company.
Matthew Shober and Casey Tyrrell helped produce some of the items, which include a trashcan and another planter. Each took about three weeks and lots of physical labor to complete, Sells said. He has seven more pieces to finish.
The project is part of the downtown revitalization initiative known as Creativity Unleashed, which was a result of consultant Roger Brook's 2009 visit to York. One of Brooks' suggestions to help York was for the city to capitalize on its industrial history.
In June, M & T Bank furnished a $10,000 grant to fund the street architecture project on North Beaver Street.
The bank, which has a branch at the corner of Beaver and Market streets, challenged 21 other businesses on the block to match the funds. Downtown Inc. executive director Sonia Huntzinger said the grant was contingent on 100 percent participation.
All 21 merchants raised a total of $7,225 with the help of a Nov. 14 benefit at White Rose Bar and Grill.
Joe Crosswhite, regional president for M&T Bank in southcentral Pennsylvania, said he was happy to see the block come together. He said he hopes businesses on North George Street or Market Street take on similar challenges.
The Woman's Giving Circle of York County gave the Cultural Alliance of York County $30,000 to develop city revitalization strategies, including a process to select and install public art. In October, Harvard University Loeb Fellows came to York to discuss public art strategies and best practices.
Huntzinger said the North Beaver Street project preceded the alliance's public art initiative, but plans to work with the organization's public art committee. The city is still deciding who should run the effort, where it will be focused and how it will be funded.
And Sells is still deciding on his next functional art design.
"Each (piece) depends on the items we find," he said. "They evolve from there."
What locals said about Beaver Street's new functional art pieces:
"As long as they don't get abused or destroyed," said Ron Ansell, 58, of Wrightsville as he grabbed a bite at Central Market.
"I've had a business in the city for 25 years," said Charlotte Bergdoll of Cherry Lane Realty, Inc. on West Market Street. "I'm excited to see this happen. It's beyond what I had imagined."
"I think it's fantastic," George Ruffin of York said as he took a photo of one of the pieces with his phone to send to his wife. "York is coming alive."
"It's very unique," said Antonette Russell, 35, of York. "I'm glad to see they used recycled (materials)."
Salvaging Creativity: www.salvagingcreativity.com
Creativity Unleashed: downtownyorkpa.com/creativity-unleashed
Cultural Alliance of York County's public art process: www.culturalalliance-york.org