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July 14--When the Yorktowne Hotel reopens in about 18 months, the building will be mostly the same -- minus a large chunk.

Crews will remove the back section of the hotel along Duke Street to make way for a first-class courtyard, according to project planners.

Major structural issues in that part of the building, added in 1957, prompted the plans to downsize the hotel.

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening for a Yorktowne Hotel "renovation celebration" event, where project partners unveiled design plans for the upcoming work.

More: Philly company selected to manage renovated Yorktowne

The renovation project includes a large group of companies and organizations, including the York County Industrial Development Authority, the York County Economic Alliance, AB Sketches, JDB Engineering, Kinsley Construction, NuTec Group and GF Management.

The removal of the rear section of the hotel also gives project planners space to make the building compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as opening the building up to more natural sunlight, said Blanda Nace, vice president of community affairs at the York County Economic Alliance.

"When the Yorktowne reopens, it may be smaller physically than it was when it closed, but it's taking giant leaps forward in the type of institution it is becoming," JDB Engineering Vice President Scott Butcher said in an eight-minute video unveiling the design plans.

More: Kinsley Construction picked for $20M Yorktowne project

Once renovations are completed in late 2018 or early 2019, hotel operator GF Management plans to open a rooftop bar, from which hotel guests will be able to see most of York County, Nace said.

The hotel's original facade will be restored to preserve the building's historic appearance, but builders will accent the interior with modern touches, including a glass staircase and metal siding, according to the planners.

Throughout the event Thursday, many of those working on the renovations spoke about returning the hotel to "its rightful status" as the cultural hub of York City.

Silent auction: Thursday's event also featured a silent-auction fundraiser, with dozens of items up for grabs, including old-fashioned clothes hangers, lights, room numbers and suite placards.

At the close of the silent auction, event organizers held a live auction for the iconic blue Yorktowne Hotel sign, said Katie Mahoney, vice president of marketing and communications for the York County Economic Alliance.

The sign was auctioned off to the highest bidder, who turned around and donated it back to be re-auctioned and raise more money for the hotel project, Mahoney said.

According to Mahoney, White Rose Bar & Grill manager Jeremiah Anderson was the lucky person to walk away with the massive sign.

Mahoney said the sign was the top-ticket item at the auction, though she could not say how much money was raised through the auction as YCEA staff were still counting it Friday.

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