Harrisburg City Council tonight approved a pair of land use proposals at its semi-monthly legislative session, giving the green light to a residential conversion project downtown and a community center extension in North Allison Hill.
Council unanimously approved a land development plan submitted by Brad Jones, CEO of Harristown Enterprises, which will convert vacant office space in Strawberry Square into 13 apartment units. The project will add to the 24 apartments already inside Strawberry Square, the result of a 2016 office-to-residential conversion by Harristown.
It’s also the third project that Jones has put before council just this year, as last month, council approved two other downtown projects proposed by Harristown: a new office building on S. 2nd Street just off Market Square and a small office-to-residential conversion at 221 N. 2nd St.
Tonight’s approval came despite recent statements from some council members that they are concerned about affordable housing in the downtown district.
Last week, Jones defended his pricing structure, telling council that 15 percent of Harristown’s apartment units could be rented by someone with an annual income of just $25,000 to $40,000 a year, while another 40 percent could be afforded by someone with an average income of $60,000 a year.
Council has not proposed any plans to regulate rents in Harrisburg. Last month, however, council President Wanda Williams said that she would continue to monitor housing development and advocate for affordable options.
Council tonight also passed a resolution authorizing Bethesda Mission to expand its community center on Herr Street in North Allison Hill. The proposal calls for the renovation of an old printing plant at 1424 Herr Street, which will create a full-size gymnasium, classrooms, office space and an event hall with a full-service kitchen.
The 10,000-square-foot space needs extensive renovations, including an overhaul of its HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, Cindy Mallow, director of development at Bethesda Mission, told TheBurg last week.
The renovated facility will also be joined to the Bethesda Mission Youth Center, which is next door at 1429 Herr St. Together, they will create a full-service community center with classes and amenities for all age groups.
Bethesda Mission hopes to break ground on the project in the summer of 2018.