Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg Council approves major Allison Hill project; mayor says city will follow state mandates in reopening

A screen grab of Harrisburg City Council’s virtual legislative session on Tuesday

One of the largest housing developments on Allison Hill in recent years is slated to move forward, as Harrisburg City Council approved a plan for a multi-building project just off of Market Street.

On Tuesday evening, council unanimously approved the land use plan by TLC Cornerstone Renewal to construct 26 townhouses, a 24-unit apartment building and a community center in a five-block area bounded by N. 15th Street, Walnut Street and Crabapple Street.

“This is such a blighted area,” council President Wanda Williams said during last week’s council work session, when the project was discussed. “It certainly will enhance this area.”

At that work session, developer Tarik Casteel, president of TLC, told council members that he hopes to break ground in the early fall on the $14.7 million affordable housing project on the 2.1-acre site.

“This project will be big in this community,” he said. “It’s definitely needed, not just in this community but in several areas of the city of Harrisburg.”

A rendering of TLC’s planned project for Allison Hill

Nearly two years ago, TLC cut the ribbon on its first big project, the 20-unit Harrisburg Uptown Building (HUB) and the HUB Veteran Housing Campus.

Casteel told council that the new Allison Hill project would be just the first phase of a three-phase project for the area. He expects a 16-month construction period for the first phase.

“In Allison Hill, there is definitely a need,” he said. “This was one of the worst areas of the city. That’s why we wanted to come into this area, because it is the worst.”

In other action, council approved the distribution of federal housing funds to city-based nonprofits. Recipients of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding include:

  • A Miracle for Sure: $13,810
  • Center for Employment Opportunities: $13,810
  • Communities in Schools: $13,810
  • Heinz Menaker Senior Center: $14,000
  • Latino Hispanic American Community Center (LHACC): $13,810
  • Neighborhood Dispute Settlement: $13,810
  • Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network: $13,810
  • The Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital City Region: $25,000

The city also distributed federal Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding to the following organizations:

  • Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness: $24,000
  • Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area: $63,000
  • Shalom House: $43,100
  • YWCA Greater Harrisburg: $50,000

Also at the meeting, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse made an opening statement, telling council members that the city would follow state mandates regarding business closures and stay-at-home orders, not the Dauphin County commissioners.

“I know I speak for all of us when I say we believe in the governor’s decision-making power, we believe in the Department of Health, and we believe in following those guidelines,” he said.

Several commissioners in central PA have threatened to unilaterally move their counties from the most restrictive “red” category to the less restrictive “yellow” category, which allows for greater freedom of movement and business operations. Locally, Dauphin County commission Chairman Jeff Haste issued a letter recently criticizing Gov. Tom Wolf and urging him to begin relaxing restrictions in the commonwealth and the county.

“I know that everyone is eager to get back to work and have the city reopen, but we have to let science guide us, we have to go slow, and we have to work collectively on this issue to make sure that we don’t have a relapse that ends up having us backslide even further and causing additional loss of life and harm,” Papenfuse said.

He added that, if the commissioners defy the state and move Dauphin County to the yellow phase, “we will not recognize that, the governor will not recognize that, and the city will remain in the red phase.”

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