Primary Field Takes Shape
Harrisburg voters will have a large field of candidates to choose from in the May election, as six hopefuls have filed for the mayoral primary and another 13 residents have filed for City Council nominations.
By the mid-March deadline, the following candidates had filed to run for the Democratic nomination for mayor:
- Otto Banks
- Kevyn Knox
- Eric Papenfuse (incumbent)
- David Schankweiler
- Wanda Williams
Banks later had his city residency challenged in court, though, at press time, a verdict had not yet been rendered.
In addition, one candidate, Timothy Rowbottom, filed to run in the Republican primary.
Thirteen candidates filed to run for the Democratic nomination for four, four-year seats on Harrisburg City Council. They are:
- Vishal Bajpai
- Lori Ann Beamer-Saulisbury
- Roy Christ
- Shamaine Daniels (incumbent)
- Crystal Davis
- Carrie Fowler
- Sarah Gethers
- Ausha Green (incumbent)
- Lavet Henderson
- Jennie Jenkins-Dallas
- Robert Lawson
- Jocelyn Rawls
- Ralph Rodriguez
No one filed to run in the Republican primary.
Two of the four council seats are open as council Vice President Ben Allatt declined to run for re-election and President Wanda Williams, who has served on council since 2006, opted to run for mayor.
The Harrisburg school board race has fewer candidates this time than two years ago, when a dozen residents ran in the hotly contested race. This year, the Democratic candidates for four, four-year seats are:
- Michael Balsbaugh
- Brian Carter (incumbent)
- Jorge Collazo
- Roslyn Copeland
- Jaime Johnsen
- Ezra Match
- Danielle Robinson (incumbent)
- Mary Simpson
Match also cross-filed on the Republican ballot.
In addition, the school board has one two-year seat available. Just one Democrat, Terricia Radcliff, has filed to run for that seat. No Republicans filed for the office.
For city controller, only incumbent Charlie DeBrunner, a Democrat, has filed to run in the primary.
Harrisburg also has two competitive races for magisterial district justice seats.
Seven Democrats have filed for the District 12-2-04 seat primary:
- Anthony Harrell
- Sha’kira Jennings
- Sonya McKnight (incumbent)
- Ellis (Rick) Roy
- Jennifer Smallwood
- Brianna Smith
- Leon Wilkerson
McKnight also cross-filed for the Republican primary.
Two Democrats filed for the District 12-2-05 seat:
- Amechie Walker Sr.
- Paul T. Zozos (incumbent)
Zozos also cross-filed for the Republican primary.
On the county level, incumbent Matt Krupp of Harrisburg filed for re-election as a Republican for prothonotary. Anju Singh of Hummelstown is running for the Democratic nomination.
Long-time county Coroner Graham Hetrick filed for re-election on the Republican ballot. He’s unchallenged for that office.
A two-year county controller seat is open following the election of Tim DeFoor as PA auditor general last year. Democrat Eric Epstein of Lower Paxton Township filed for the primary for that row office, as did Republican Mary Bateman of Lykens.
The municipal primary is slated for Tuesday, May 18.
Council Approves Building Projects
Several Harrisburg developers last month cleared the final city approval before being allowed to break ground on their projects.
City Council approved land development plans to convert a vacant church into an apartment building and another to build a six-story apartment and retail building, along with five other projects.
Developer Derek Dilks plans to transform the former First United Methodist Church at 260 Boas St. into an eight-unit apartment building. Previously, he had received zoning relief for the $1.2 million project in order to change the use of the 140-year-old church building.
Also approved were a range of renovation projects that Dilks plans for downtown. These include:
- 25 N. Front St., converting an office building into an eight-unit apartment building
- 321 N. Front St., converting an office building into a six-unit apartment building
- 130 State St., converting an office building into a five-unit apartment building
With a unanimous council vote, Harristown Development can move forward on its project at 21 S. 2nd St. The company plans to construct a six-story, mixed-use building with apartments, offices and first-floor retail space. Harristown purchased the property in 2017, demolishing the blighted commercial building that then occupied the site.
Council also gave its OK to the renovation of the “Carpets and Draperies” building on the 1500-block of N. 3rd St., a long-blighted retail building that will be converted to five apartments and first-floor retail space.
Other approved resolutions last month included:
- 1605-1609 Swatara St., consolidating and re-subdividing the parcels comprising the project site into three parcels and constructing three, single-family townhomes
- Awarding up to $10,000 in funding to the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium to co-sponsor the Pennsylvania Environmental Justice Symposium
Council this month is expected to consider another large project in Midtown. It includes include 85 apartments, a grocery store and a parking garage, bounded by Boyd, N. 5th, Reily and Fulton streets.
Superintendent Search Begins
The Harrisburg School District is taking a major step to fill a top post in the administration.
The district announced last month that it will begin a national search for the next superintendent of schools as part of the next phase of its “Amended Recovery Plan.”
“We will seek a student-centered leader who will embrace our school community, lead with integrity, and pursue continual growth and improvement for the district,” according to the district.
In 2019, the district passed into state receivership after failing to meet the academic objectives in the 2013 recovery plan and the 2016 amended plan. The superintendent at that time, Sybil Knight-Burney, was fired.
Dr. Janet Samuels was appointed receiver of the district and, later, Chris Celmer was named acting superintendent, in collaboration with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU).
The district will move to reinstate a full superintendent now that it is more than halfway through its three-year, state-mandated receivership. According to its statement, the district may fill the position as early as this summer.
Samuels and the MCIU will conduct interviews, and the community will get to meet the final candidate before they are appointed, according to the district. Celmer will provide support for the new superintendent and continue to work with the district through June 2022.
Allison Hill Art Project
Harrisburg-based Sprocket Mural Works last month announced that it plans to bring more art to the Allison Hill neighborhood.
Volunteers from Sprocket, a nonprofit, plan to kick off the biannual Harrisburg Mural Festival by painting nearly 30 new planter boxes, in partnership with Tri County Community Action, on Derry and Market streets.
Their goal is to commission artists from Allison Hill, as well as artists from the city at large. Sprocket announced a call for artists to submit designs for these paid positions.
“We are looking forward to connecting with artists from Allison Hill—that’s what is so valuable about this community-focused project,” said Meg Caruso, co-founder of Sprocket. “More than a dozen planters will benefit and beautify the immediate Allison Hill neighborhood. Additionally, these planters will become works of art that uplift and recognize local artistic talent for years to come.”
Sprocket is looking for artists to highlight the culture and diversity of Allison Hill in the paintings, as well as what they love about their city. The deadline for artists to apply is April 30, and the painting will take place between May 22 and June 20.
Home Sales Dip, Prices Up
Home sales dropped a bit, but price appreciation was strong in the Harrisburg area in February.
The Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR) reported that home sales fell to 458 units last month compared to 500 units in February 2020 across its three-county coverage area. However, the median sales price rose to $190,950 versus $180,000 a year ago.
In Dauphin County, sales dipped to 236 units against 244 in the year-ago period, but the median price increased to $168,500 versus $164,900 last year, GHAR stated.
Similarly, Cumberland County saw a small drop in home sales—from 205 a year ago to 196 this past February—but the median price rose sharply, from $214,500 to $232,000, GHAR said.
In Perry County, sales dropped by three units, to 21 homes, as the median price rose to $154,900 compared to $147,500 a year ago, GHAR stated.
The organization also reported that homes were selling much faster than last year, as the “average days on market” dropped to 30 days versus 57 the prior February.
Aaron Johnson last month announced his retirement as Harrisburg’s long-serving director of the Department of Public Works. Dave West, Johnson’s second in command, will replace him in the post.
Gateway Health opened a “Connection Center” last month at 1426 N. 3rd St. in Harrisburg. The facility will help connect members with services and also will offer space for education and seminars, for private consult/conference rooms and to help meet community needs.
Gov. Tom Wolf last month further loosened pandemic-related restrictions on numerous businesses, including restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues. The new rules, which take effect April 4, allow bar service to resume and permit restaurants to serve alcohol without the purchase of food, among other provisions. Mask-wearing and distancing requirements are still mandated.
HACC’s parking lot is the site of a new mass vaccination clinic sponsored by Dauphin County and UPMC Pinnacle. The drive-through site is expected to dispense thousands of COVID-19 vaccinations daily when enough doses are available in the county.
Harrisburg last month extended its moratorium on evictions for another month, to April 16. This is the third time that the city has extended the ban, which was enacted first in December to prevent evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mary Murphy has joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region as its new development director. According to the organization, she has extensive experience in marketing, communications, business and consulting for nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies.
Michael Karcutskie was named last month as president of Harrisburg-based Quandel Construction Group. In this role, Karcutskie is responsible for overseeing the firm’s operations and developing its corporate strategy. Previously, he served as vice president of pre-construction and estimating.
Strawberry Square last month began hosting a free COVID-19 testing site near the Walnut Street entrance in downtown Harrisburg. The walk-in site will run at least through April 10, Tuesdays through Saturdays, no appointment required.
Verber Dental Group last month announced that its new pediatric dentistry facility will open in May. The $1.5 million project, located at 201 St. John’s Church Rd. in Hampden Township, will include eight state-of-the-art dental suites, along with interactive spaces for children and a “tooth fairy booth.”
Whitaker Center partially reopened last month following a lengthy pandemic-related shutdown. The downtown Harrisburg arts and science center is now open Fridays and Saturdays, by appointment, in two sessions: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Zeroday Brewing Co. last month opened its new taproom and restaurant at 925 N. 3rd St. in Midtown Harrisburg. The 150-person space features a large bar area, dining rooms, a courtyard and a small-batch, three-barrel brewhouse that can be closed off for special events. The menu focuses on contemporary, Mexican-style cuisine by restaurant partner La Catrina.
Bailey St., 1302: H. Roberts to Global Supply Group LLC, $41,000
Berryhill St., 1623: M. Plancencia & L. Pichardo to A. Pichardo, $35,000
Berryhill St., 2437: C. Still to J. Martinez & M. Gomez, $38,000
Bigelow Dr., 1300: R. Shalhoub to M. Murphy & G. Neff, $58,800
Boas St., 418: D. & L. Engelhardt to W. Sechler & M. Ackerman, $123,715
Calder St., 523: A. Johnson to M. McNeils, $159,900
Camp St., 635: Integrity First Time Home Buyers LLC to J. Darling, $120,000
Chestnut St., 1832: Gilligan Realty LLC to G. Graham, $51,000
Cumberland St., 115: F. & J. Martin to J. Klinger, $127,500
Derry St., 2125: 37 Estate LLC to A. Miller, $95,000
Derry St., 2621: E. Chandler to Z. Soto, $99,900
Derry St., 2700: Rohrer Rentals LLC to Painted Sky Properties LLC, $243,000
Disbrow St., 88 & 90: H. & L. Bueno to D. Best, $35,000
Elm St., 1726: A. Williams Jr. to D. Chambers, $95,000
Evergreen St., 26 & 28: Round Rock Investments LLC to 101 S. 17th Street LLC, $104,000
Fulton St., 1404: T. Copeland to K. Shoaff, $125,000
Green St., 2313: N. Jacobs to E. Macas, $40,000
Greenwood St., 2507: F. & S. Ford to C. Everett, $39,900
Hanover St., 1318: A. Bawo to B. Ortega, $39,000
Herr St., 265: Rosegarden Properties to B. Staudt, $199,900
Holly St., 1914: SPG Capital LLC to M. Rodriguez, $59,900
Kensington St., 2255: D. & D. Ford to Men of Morals LLC, $52,000
Logan St., 2242: RT Propertiez LLC to RRMMM Real Estate LLC, $31,500
Market St., 1801: D.L. Weaver Enterprises LLC to Builders Property Management & Marketing Group LLC, $39,785
Market St., 1857: JMDM Properties LLC to Market Whitehall Property Holdings LLC, $110,000
Market St., 1859: Z. Reeves to Z. & S. Coombs, $100,000
Market St., 1910: JMDM Properties LLC to Market Whitehall Property Holdings LLC, $110,000
Market St., 1915: JMDM Properties LLC to Market Whitehall Property Holdings LLC, $110,000
Market St., 1941: A. Antoun to Royalty Tax Services LLC, $105,000
Mulberry St., 1837: A. Mohamed to Fine Line Real Estate LLC, $44,000
N. 2nd St., 933: C. Wise to D. Moore & K. Williams, $212,000
N. 2nd St., 1209: GO Trump Inc. to OK 3 Investments LLC, $365,000
N. 2nd St., 1333: C. Leavitt to R. Adams & K. Rasmus, $127,500
N. 2nd St., 1505: B. Bragg to S. & H. Westhafer, $78,000
N. 2nd St., 2436: D. Sanko to J. Belizaire, $247,000
N. 2nd St., 2832: WK Rentals LLC to K. Hill, $139,950
N. 2nd St., 2900: F. & B. Pinto to R. Lawson, $207,000
N. 2nd St., 3127: M. Stilo to Honest Home Solutions LLC, $56,375
N. 3rd St., 2104 & 2106: J. & D. Negron to S. Schlackman, $100,000
N. 4th St., 2609: RJ Shultz Enterprises Inc. to D. Markel, $80,000
N. 5th St., 1720: Principium LLC to S. Bustard, $172,000
N. 5th St., 1940: Neidlinger Enterprises LLC to M. Trieu, $149,500
N. 6th St., 2529: DL Weaver Enterprises LLC to A. Woodman, $60,000
N. 6th St., 3214: Mid Atlantic IRA LLC Donna Laubach IRA to AM Properties USA LLC, $66,500
N. 7th St., 2110 & 2115 Motke St.: M., M. & N. Barber to D. Montes, $59,000
N. 13th St., 142: 37 Estate LLC to Z. & S. Coombs, $75,000
N. 19th St., 36: J. & L. Carter to A. Nebbou, $74,900
N. 19th St., 712: C. Butler to A. Smith, $89,900
N. 19th St., 1004: R. Dressler & E. Knuth Jr. to A. Nebbou, $50,000
N. Cameron St., 1511: Note Purchasers LLC to D&F Realty Holdings LP, $375,000
N. Front St., 1525, Unit 505: G. & C. Francis to C. Hackett, $177,000
N. Front St., 2745: 2745 Limited LP to Jenga on Front, $771,000
Norwood St., 906: N. Moya to S. Pacley, $79,000
Penn St., 1812: Lancaster Real Estate Fund LLC to 2020 Real Estate Ventures LLC, $65,000
Race St., 548 & 550: M. Fox to Panda Real Estate LLC, $130,000
Radnor St., 403: T. Brown to TKO Rental Properties LLC, $110,000
Reel St., 2636: A. & R. Laracuenta to Neidlinger Enterprises LLC, $52,000
Rudy Rd., 1940: M. Heefner & S. Shrhart to S. Ludington, $55,000
Rudy Rd., 2141: M. McNelis to H. Fender, $190,000
Seneca St., 501: Dauphin County Property Investors LLC to Archie Group, $396,000
Showers St., 702: L. Rotegliano to M. Harrison, $169,900
S. 13th St., 1436: D. Weaver to A. Woodman, $45,000
S. 15th St., 320: Wells Fargo Bank NA to R. Gashi, $31,500
S. 16th St., 545: G. & Y. Garcia to PBBO Real Estate LLC, $42,500
S. 17th St., 544: G. & Y. Garcia to D. Montes, $41,500
S. 24th St., 702: Property Value Solutions LLC to M. Valverde, $90,000
S. 29th St., 738: J. & L. Guizado to J. Smith, $110,000
S. Cameron St., 1517 & 1540: A. & C. Quigley to New Vision Management LLC, $224,000
Spencer St., 1839: R. Farley to J. Rodriguez, $43,000
State St., 231, Unit 806: LUX 1 LP to A. Richie, $135,000
State St., 1520: R. Schwartz to G. Zehr, $75,000
State St., 1840: A. Alumbaugh to J. Tineo, $57,000
Walnut St., 1196: L. Alvarez to M. Hernandez, $68,900
Whitehall St., 1817: JMDM Properties LLC to Market Whitehall Property Holdings LLC, $110,000
Harrisburg property sales for February 2021, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.
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