A warm summer day, a frosty cocktail in hand, a beautiful view of the sparkling water.
Cape May, N.J.? Rehoboth Beach, Del.?
Sure, but also, coming soon—Harrisburg, Pa.
This weekend, signs will unfurl announcing a new business on City Island, the Harrisburg Beach Club, which is expected to open in July.
“We want to create a new destination at the point of City Island,” said Adam Maust, one of two area businessmen behind the project.
Maust, owner of the Harrisburg-based consulting firm, A Mighty Group, said that he came up with the idea last year while walking around the island and seeing the mostly empty beach area, which he considered to be a neglected gem with great potential.
He approached his friend and fellow Harrisburg-area entrepreneur Bryan Donovan and, together, they hashed out a business plan to put the area back into use.
The pair is leasing the mostly shuttered City Island Bathhouse from the city, as well as the beach area in back of the building. Following renovations and upgrades, visitors will be able to rent a chair and umbrella, buy drinks and food, and socialize and relax. The city currently does not allow swimming from the beach.
Much of the beach area will remain outside of the Harrisburg Beach Club space, but even the part they’re renting will remain open to the public, Maust said.
“There’s no charge to enter,” he said.
Built in 1921, the bathhouse marks its centennial this year, but has been mostly closed for a long time. The partners plan to use just the first floor for now, renovating the bathrooms and changing rooms.
Outside of the building, the club will feature two bars serving Pennsylvania beer, wines and spirits. They will offer beer from six local breweries on tap, as well as their own signature beer, Maust said. Food trucks will be on site for snacks and meals.
They plan to beautify the area with plants and flowers and fix and upgrade the existing sandboxes. The bars and other infrastructure are being built to be easily removable in case of flooding, Maust said.
Maust and Donovan both said that they hope their venture will help reinvigorate City Island as a destination. Over the years, the island has lost many of the small, tourist-oriented businesses once sprinkled around the 1-mile paved loop.
“Our vision is to bring people to the island to help other vendors there,” Donovan said. “This could be a catalyst for other things starting in the future.”
Maust said that he envisions the Harrisburg Beach Club as a four-season destination, with cool- and cold-weather activities, such as an artificial skating rink, supplementing the summer high season.
He said that he believes that people will be attracted by the uniqueness of the location, including the views of the Susquehanna River and city skyline.
“People will enjoy meeting up at an enchanted spot in the city,” he said. “We’re hoping to add value to spending the day on City Island.”
The Harrisburg Beach Club will be located at the point on City Island, Harrisburg. For more information, visit www.harrisburgbeachclub.com.
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