A Harrisburg developer has plans to construct nearly 100 townhouses on long-empty lots that dot numerous streets just north of the Broad Street Market.
Midtown Redevelopment LLP, a team comprised of developers Chris Bryce, Erica Bryce and builder Harrisburg Commercial Interiors, hopes to build some 96 townhouses, along with off-street parking for each unit.
Plans also include one larger, mixed-used building for “workforce housing” with first-floor commercial space, along with several community parks.
“We love Harrisburg, and we want it to be even better than it already is,” Chris Bryce said. “That’s truly our motivation.”
Chris and Erica Bryce have completed numerous construction projects in Harrisburg, most recently the renovation of a Locust Street building that now houses the firm, Merit Marketing. They also are the owners of City House Bed & Breakfast.
The proposed project would require the team to purchase 189 separate lots, most currently owned by the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority (HRA), in the Marketplace and Capitol Heights neighborhoods.
Many of the lots were originally part of a townhouse development proposed by State College-based builder, S&A Homes. S&A began the project about 15 years ago, but then stopped, leaving most of the lots empty.
Last year, the HRA bought back the empty lots from S&A and, in April 2019, named another developer, Seven Bridges Development, as its preferred developer. Seven Bridges has not broken ground and, late last year, said that it would seek additional community input before proceeding with its plans.
The Midtown Redevelopment team would now like to be named HRA’s preferred developer for the lots, an issue that may be on the HRA’s agenda for its Aug. 18 meeting.
Bryce believes that a strength of his proposal is that it conforms with the current “residential medium neighborhood” zoning for the area. Last year, Seven Bridges asked the city to rezone the area to “commercial neighborhood,” which would allow for greater height, density and mix of uses. It later withdrew that proposal.
“Ours is a comprehensive, shovel-ready proposal,” Bryce said. “We’d be ready to move very quickly.”
He said that the first townhouses would be ready for sale within six months of the team receiving the go-ahead from the city.
The development team had renderings of its proposal available for viewing last weekend at four locations on Reily Street, N. 4th Street and Hamilton Street.
Bryce said that he’d like to restore the neighborhood to what it once was— residential blocks of rowhouses.
The once-thriving working- and middle-class neighborhood became depopulated and increasingly blighted with the failure of Harrisburg’s heavy industry and the collapse of the railroads. In the 1970s and ‘80s, the neighborhood also fell victim to numerous arson fires.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the city cleared much of the neighborhood, but most of the lots have now been empty for 20 years or more.
“We’re very proud of what we’re proposing,” Bryce said. “We’re eager to share our plans with the community.”
This story has been updated.