Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

February News Digest

Gaming Grants Awarded

More than 80 projects in Dauphin County will receive gaming grants this year, as the Dauphin County commissioners last month approved $6.3 million in awards.

Harrisburg-based companies and organizations will receive a number of grants, the awards originating each year from the county’s share of gaming revenue generated from Hollywood Casino at Penn National.

In Harrisburg, many of the projects are geared towards either removing blight or offsetting redevelopment or construction costs. These include:

  • Jackson Rooming House and Swallow Mansion: $75,000 to Vice Capital for renovating the buildings on the 1000-block of N. 6th Street
  • Midtown Cinema: $50,000 for a major lobby and façade renovation
  • Open Stage: $50,000 for phase three of its renovation project
  • com: $60,000 for demolition of two blighted buildings on the 1400-block of N. 3rd Street
  • Whitaker Center: $100,000 for updates and improvements to its STEM learning gallery
  • The Nativity School: $50,000 for new school facility renovation
  • Homeland Center: $24,000 for security infrastructure improvements
  • Stephen’s Episcopal School: $20,000 for school safety and security improvements

Harrisburg city will receive two grants:

  • $250,000 for purchase and installation of new bay floors at the city’s two operational fire stations
  • $$75,000 for design of the city’s proposed extension of the Urban Meadow in Midtown

Other Harrisburg-based projects include:

  • Capital Area Transit: $96,500 for transportation services for veterans
  • The Salvation Army: $25,000 for a new generator
  • Dauphin County Library System: $40,000 for patron computer upgrades
  • Keystone Service Systems: $43,000 for Capital Area Head Start outdoor education space
  • Harrisburg University: $75,000 for HUE Invitational security services and technology
  • Downtown Daily Bread: $10,000 for installation of air conditioning in day shelter
  • Midtown Action Council: $5,000 for historic marker revitalization expansion project
  • National Civil War Museum: $16,000 for reduction of debt
  • Sankofa 21 Institute: $6,000 for student technology initiative
  • Dauphin County Industrial Development Authority: $100,000 to administer the Foundation for Enhancing Communities/IIPT Harrisburg Peace Promenade Commonwealth Monument Project

Each year, the commissioners make these awards based upon the recommendation of the county’s five-member Gaming Advisory Board. Last year, the county awarded $6.4 million in grants to about 60 projects.


More Downtown Apartments OK’d

More apartments are headed to downtown Harrisburg, as a split City Council has approved Harristown’s latest building plan.

By a 4-3 vote, council approved a proposal to convert a Market Square office building to residential use.

South Second Associates LLC, a development group led by Harristown Enterprises, plans to build out 30 one- and two-bedroom units from the former home of the Skarlatos Zonarich law firm, which has relocated to Strawberry Square. Rents are expected to range from $1,100 to $1,400 a month, depending on square footage and the numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms.

The developers originally planned to retain the building for offices, but couldn’t find an anchor tenant, which led to a change to residential use.

Council President Wanda Williams objected to the project and voted against it, joined by council members Ausha Green and Danielle Bowers.

Williams said she that, for years, she has urged Harristown to meet with the city or with such entities as the Harrisburg Housing Authority to include units that would meet some undefined standard of affordable housing.

“I informed you three or fours years ago that I want to see a percentage for inclusionary or affordable housing,” Williams said.

Council member Shamaine Daniels, however, said that the city shouldn’t expect a specific developer to provide affordable housing when the city itself lacks an affordable housing statute. In fact, she placed blame on council itself for inaction.

“The leadership really comes from council or the mayor,” she said. “I think it’s unfair to hold individuals responsible for lack of leadership on our own part.”

Williams has said that she expects to introduce an affordable housing ordinance later this year.

Over the past several years, Harristown has invested tens of millions of dollars to convert substandard, often vacant, downtown office space into new, market-rate apartments. It currently is signing leases for two newly renovated apartment buildings on Pine Street.

Jones said that he expects the renovation of the Market Square building, located at 17 S. 2nd St., to begin this spring and be completed early next year.


Arcade Debated

Harrisburg City Council last month introduced a resolution that would transfer ownership of the Strawberry Square arcade.

Harristown Development Corp. is asking council to transfer the arcade—the elevated walkway that connects Strawberry Square to the Hilton Harrisburg—to the Strawberry Square Condominium Association.

Neal West, Harristown senior vice president and president of the condominium association, said that they would like a permanent solution for the 66-foot-long enclosed pedestrian pathway. The city is supposed to pay for maintenance of the arcade, estimated at $70,000 per year, but Harristown has been footing that cost for decades.

Moreover, Harristown has invested some $500,000 over the years to reconstruct and upgrade portions of the arcade, and more costly improvements are needed now, West said.

In 2015, Strawberry Square became a condominium, co-owned by Harristown and the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority, which has transferred its board seats to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as state workers occupy the majority of office space in Strawberry Square.

If council approves the transfer, ongoing expenses would be split between Harristown and the commonwealth, West said. Because the arcade generates no revenue, yet has expenses, its value is negative, he said.

Currently, Harristown has a month-to-month agreement with the city to maintain the arcade, so could exit it at any time.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said that his administration believes it’s in the city’s interest to be relieved of potential maintenance and upgrade expenses.

“The liabilities associated with maintaining the arcade properly are more than the city is in a financial position to want to bear,” Papenfuse said.

Several council members wanted assurance that the arcade would remain open to the public if the city no longer owned it.

“The public use would remain in place,” West said. “People would continue to have full use and benefit of the arcade.”



CASA Expansion Ahead

The Capital Area School for the Arts is moving on up—to the third floor of Strawberry Square.

Starting next academic year, CASA will expand by one floor, into space once occupied by Gamut Theatre.

“The move is exciting for us,” said CEO and Principal Tim Wendling. “The improvements will allow CASA to support additional STEAM learning opportunities as well as sustain our academic needs well into the future.”

More than four years ago, Gamut relocated from its long-time home in Strawberry Square to the former First Church of God across N. 4th Street in downtown Harrisburg. Strawberry Square owner Harristown Enterprises has been searching since for a tenant for that third-floor space.

“It’s an ideal space for CASA to cement their future in Strawberry Square,” said Brad Jones, Harristown president and CEO. “Over time, they’ve really grown to find this to be a unique and opportune space for their campus.”

A public charter school, CASA offers full-day high school education for 200 students from 30 central Pennsylvania school districts.

According to CASA, the new, third-floor space above the food court will add classrooms, a science lab and several other academic spaces, bringing the school’s footprint to about 25,000 square feet over the first and third floors of Strawberry Square.

For the past several years, CASA has been leasing additional classroom space from Temple University Harrisburg, which is located on the other end of the office, residential and retail complex. The expansion should eliminate the need for that space.

Work on the new space, totaling about 10,000 square feet, is expected to start soon, with completion in time for the 2020-21 school year. To pay for the lease and the build-out, the CASA Charter School Foundation has begun a campaign to raise $1.6 million.

To contribute to the CASA Charter School Foundation’s capital campaign, visit


Monument Receives Funds

A monument honoring voting rights and Harrisburg history is a step closer to reality, as the project last month received more than $100,000 in new funding.

At a city hall press conference, the Commonwealth Monument Project received several large checks and pledges that will enable work to begin on critical aspects of the multi-part statue.

The city, the Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC) and philanthropist Peggy Grove all announced additional support for the monument planned for the lawn of the Capitol’s Irvis office building at N. 4th and Walnut streets.

“It’s a wonderful and incredibly important day,” said Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse. “The monument, which has been a vision for so long, will become a reality.”

In its 2020 budget, the city pledged $25,000 to help build the base of the monument if organizers could raise a $25,000 matching grant. TFEC now has provided that match.

The $360,000 monument, called “A Gathering at the Crossroads,” consists of three distinct aspects, all crafted by Lancaster-based A.R.T. Enterprises.

The first, the orator’s pedestal, depicts scenes of Harrisburg’s old 8th Ward, which was demolished to expand the Capitol complex. It already has been completed.

The second consists of life-sized figures of four important figures in Harrisburg history: civil rights activist William Howard Day, journalist and lawyer Thomas Morris Chester, musician and restaurateur Jacob T. Compton and abolitionist and suffragist Francis Ellen Walker Harper.

In addition to honoring the demolished 8th Ward, the monument is a tribute to voting rights—specifically, the U.S. Constitution’s 15th and 19th amendments, which secured the vote for African Americans and for women, respectively.

The project’s third aspect is the base of the monument, which the $50,000 donation will fund.

Grove, who had already helped fund the monument’s pedestal, then announced additional support by the Grove Family Fund for two of the four statues.

Besides raising money, the monument’s executive committee has succeeded in receiving legislative approval to site the monument on the grounds of the Capitol complex.



Festivals on Tap for March

Two celebrations, just weeks apart, will mean a busy March around downtown Harrisburg.

First up, on March 7, the city will host its third annual Ice and Fire Festival. The one-day event closes down a portion of N. 2nd Street for free ice skating in the street, children’s activities, music, food trucks, fire dancers and other fun events, capped off by a dozen or so ice sculptures.

Two weeks later, on March 21, downtown again will spring to life with a number of St. Patrick’s Day events.

Activities begin at noon for what’s become the start of the long race season in Harrisburg, with the Lucky Charm 5K/10K. At 2 p.m., the run becomes a slow walk as the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade begins to wind its way through the downtown.

The parade will feature six Irish pipe and drum bands, fire trucks, floats, Irish dance groups and other entertainers, in addition to numerous food trucks.

“We are pleased to be hosting this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and are excited to show off more of our downtown business community,” said Todd Vander Woude, executive director of the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District. “We invite you and your family to join us for a great day downtown.”

Several downtown streets will close for the Ice and Fire Festival and St. Patrick’s Day events, which both occur on Saturdays. Four hours of free parking are available in downtown metered spots by using the Parkmobile app with code “LUVHBG.”


Home Sales, Prices Up

Harrisburg area home sales and prices rose significantly in January, with strong sales data from both Dauphin and Cumberland counties.

Overall, housing sales in the three-county region climbed to 494 units versus 350 in January 2019, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR). The median sales price increased to $182,000, up by 7.1 percent year-over-year.

In Dauphin County, sales surged to 240 housing units compared to 179 in the year-ago period, while the median sales price rose to $171,000 versus $152,500, said GHAR.

Cumberland County also had a strong month, with sales rising to 229 units versus 154 in January 2019, according to GHAR. The median sales price increased to $196,900 from $182,500 in the year-ago period.

In Perry County, sales also were up, totaling 25 units versus 17 a year ago, but the median sales price decreased to $138,000 from $170,000, GHAR said.

According to GHAR, average days on the market in its coverage area dropped substantially, standing at 42 days in January, down 28.8 percent from the year-ago period. 


So Noted

Downtown Harrisburg last month was hit by a substantial water main break. About 200 customers were either without water or had to boil their water for several days after a large crack developed in an 82-year-old pipe.

Harrisburg University has announced two more major outdoor concerts in Riverfront Park. Alt-rockers Cage the Elephant are slated to play on June 18 and DJs Steve Aoki and Deorro on June 26. In January, HU said that Riverfront Park also will be the site of a June 4 concert by the Icelandic band, Of Monsters and Men.

Just Baked Cakes & Pies held its grand opening last month inside of Midtown Scholar Bookstore in the former space of P&R Bakery. Owner Tammy Worthy-Jones heads up the eatery, which specializes in cheesecakes and also offers cookies, puddings, pies, sandwiches, soups and breakfast items.

Matthew Herren last month was named the new executive director of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. Herren, originally from Lancaster, will replace Jeff Woodruff, who is retiring after 17 years in the position. Most recently, Herren served as executive director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.


Changing Hands

Boas St., 221: R. Sabo to S. Hart, $119,000

Briggs St., 221: G. Dori to D. Thomas, $187,000

Chestnut St., 2015: A. & G. Griffith to SPG Capital LLC, $45,000

Chestnut St., 2312: P. & J. Vander Kraats to A. & L. Myers, $140,000

Croyden Rd., 2968: A. Snyder to M. Cabrera & R. Gonzalez, $70,000

Derry St., 2345: Charles A. Sterret Investments & W. Klinger to SNB Real Estate Solutions LLC, $42,000

Derry St., 2503: S. & A. Cornick to J. Cornwall, $50,000

Division St., 507: H. Fox Jr. to A. McKonly, $44,500

Duke St., 2435: J. Smith & Genesis Opportunity Development Corp. to Genesis Opportunity Development Corp., $45,000

Emerald St., 231: Federal National Mortgage Association to H. & B. Reyes, $72,000

Forster St., 1927 & 1929: R. Mosley to K. Santamaria, $75,000

Girard St., 745: American Escrow & Closing Co. to SPG Capital LLC, $47,500

Green St., 910: J. Foreman to D. & L. Williams, $197,000

Green St., 1615: J. Scott to B. Kerstetter, $150,000

Green St., 1910: C. Reinhold & K. Hurst to D. Greenstein & M. Feldman, $219,900

Green St., 1928: J. Hardie & T. Craven to M. Stilegman, $225,000

Hale Ave., 453: KDW Real Estate Holdings LLC to Z. Garba, $31,000

Harris St., 236: Hari Group LLP to K. Kinyua, $135,000

Herr St., 1408: L. Proctor to E. Canchani, $45,000

Kensington St., 2357: J. Liddick to J. & M. Ranck, $58,700

Linden St., 109, 111, 113, 115, 117, 117½, 119, 119½ and 100 & 112 N. 13th St.: CPenn Patriot Properties Midtown LLC to G. Radon, $135,000

Lewis St., 210: T. Keller to Smith Della Porta Investments LLC, $72,500

Logan St., 2247: D. Mitchell to CR Property Group LLC, $30,000

North St., 2022: FBTB Group to D. Watson, $60,000

N. 2nd St., 817: HCH Investments LP to N&R Group LLC, $180,000

N. 2nd St., 1013: M. Weiss & M. Marsico to V. French, $105,000

N. 2nd St., 1503: J&S Estates LLC to C. Carlsen, $184,000

N. 2nd St., 1622: J. & M. Quigley to Three Bridges Holdings LLC, $67,500

N. 2nd St., 1624: J. & M. Quigley to Three Bridges Holdings LLC, $67,500

N. 3rd St., 1116: Tang & Perkins Property Management LLC to Capozzi & Ehring Realty LLC, $330,000

N. 3rd St., 2317 & 2319: Sam Hill Properties to DAG EKG Properties LLC, $187,000

N. 3rd St., 2333: 2333 N. 3rd Street LLC to S. Linder, $133,000

N. 3rd St., 3115: M. Bhatti to Equitable Rentals LLC, $97,000

N. 3rd St., 3200: Riverside Methodist Church to Kesher Israel Congregation of Harrisburg Pennsylvania, $176,000

N. 5th St., 2630: CitiMortgage Inc. to D&F Realty Holdings LP, $45,600

N. 13st St., 116: C. Castagneto to T. Gilmore, $35,000

N. 18th St., 73: B. Boyer & J. Hoover to E. Morris & C. Perez, $38,000

Norwood St., 919: H. Greene to D. De Jesus, $85,000

Park St., 1939: K. Lewis to L. Long Jr., $60,000

Paxton St., 1621: E. & Q. Rivera to L. & L. Morales, $35,000

Penn St., 1707: M. Carson to J. Becker & K. Talada, $126,900

Penn St., 2231: O. & N. Banting to T. Astuto, $105,000

Radnor St., 403: BJ Cvetko to T. Brown, $110,000

Radnor St., 630: 630 Radnor Street PA LLC to T. Gassert, $30,000

Radnor St., 631: H. Yellets Jr. to J. Fernandez, $32,000

Rudy Rd., 2130: Derry Street Evangelical Church to G. Brown, $100,000

S. 15th St., 922: PA Deals LLC to S. Chatman, $118,000

S. 19th St., 231: P. Trustey to HBK Properties 1 LLC, $41,000

S. 24th St., 608: D. & A. Hoyt to S. Welch, $160,000

S. 25th St., 438: CR Property Group LLC to M. Anwar & B. Sakina, $82,500

S. 25th St., 640: D. Hoffman to J. Regalado, $42,000

S. 27th St., 661: R. Bowser to SPG Capital LLC, $85,000

Susquehanna St., 1330: Frog Hollow Associates LLC to Green Scapes Investments LLC, $55,000

Verbeke St., 208: C. Malloy & K. Sica to J. & J. Weaver, $99,900

Vernon St., 1409: Tang & Perkins Property Management LLC to Green Book Enterprise LLC, $107,999

Woodbine St., 222: I. Sweets to K. Robinson, $36,000

Woodlawn St., 2201: Harrisburg Lodge 12 Order of Elks Assoc. to Full Circle Music Inc., $230,000

Harrisburg property sales for January 2020, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.

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