Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

January News Digest

Former Mayor Reed Dies

Long-time Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed died late last month, the seven-term, often-controversial mayor defining an era of Harrisburg’s history.

Reed, 70, died following a long battle with prostate cancer. He left behind a complicated legacy, one marked both by the city’s nascent renaissance and its eventual financial collapse.

Born in Chambersburg, Reed later moved to Harrisburg and attended Bishop McDevitt High School. As a teenager, he already was involved in Democratic politics and left Dickinson College to pursue his political ambitions.

At just 25 years old, he was elected to the state Assembly, serving five years, and also was elected Dauphin County commissioner. His true desire, though, was to lead his struggling hometown, and he was elected mayor in 1981.

At the time, Harrisburg was suffering from decades of deindustrialization, depopulation and disinvestment, as well as devastating flooding. He immediately made big plans for change.

Through 28 years in office, Reed had many successes, including reviving City Island, attracting a minor league baseball team, opening the National Civil War Museum and reinvigorating the moribund downtown.

Over time, though, questions arose over how the city financed these and other projects. In the early 2000s, a bungled retrofit of the city’s troubled incinerator revealed Harrisburg’s fragile financial state and very high levels of debt. It also was discovered that Reed had spent millions of public dollars buying artifacts for a series of museums he hoped to build.

In 2009, Reed lost a bid for an unprecedented eighth term, and, soon, the city was placed into the state’s Act 47 program for financially distressed municipalities then put directly into state receivership.

Meanwhile, the state launched an investigation into Reed’s dealings and, in 2015, charged him with 499 criminal counts, most later dismissed due to statute of limitations restrictions. In 2017, he was given probation after pleading guilty to 20 criminal counts related to museum artifacts found in his possession.

Reed left behind a complex legacy, one of rebuilding and distress, one the city lives with to this day.

Police Promotions, Hires Announced

You might say it’s the year of the police officer in Harrisburg.

The 2020 budget is increasing pay for many officers, and, last month, 28 officers were sworn in or promoted.

“It is an exciting time to become a Harrisburg police officer,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse. “The city is on the right track, and it is a very, very exciting day.”

In a ceremony at Whitaker Center, 10 young officers with a wide range of experience and skill were sworn into the city’s Police Bureau. A few received education at local and state schools including HACC and Penn State University. Others have experience working as emergency medical technicians or serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“It’s a very diverse group,” Papenfuse said. “We really are getting the very brightest and the very best.”

Many of the new officers began their six-month education at the Police Academy at HACC last month. After graduation, they will undergo in-house training and field training with the bureau.

“I’m excited, nervous, but excited,” new officer Jarrod Haar said. “I have been trying to do this for a while.”

Eighteen officers were promoted within the bureau. Two were sworn in as captains, four became lieutenants, six became sergeants and six were promoted to corporals.

With each step up in the bureau, “the burden only gets heavier,” Police Commissioner Thomas Carter said.

Six officers were recognized for their retirement, including a police dog, Officer Beau.

Promotions were announced for the following officers:

  • Dennis Sorensen
  • Terry Wealand
  • Todd Abromitis Sr.
  • James T. Galkowski
  • Thomas McGarrity
  • Russell Winder Jr.
  • Quinten Kennedy
  • Robert Minnier
  • Brian Henry
  • Marc McNaughton
  • Robert Minnier
  • Robert Yost
  • Antwyn Chatman
  • Teresa Covey
  • Derek Fenton
  • Joseph Marshall
  • Matthew Nordstrom
  • Matthew Novchich

The following new police officers were sworn in:

  • Joshua C. Cook
  • Andrew J. Dick
  • Aida Eminagic
  • Jarrod Haar
  • Jenelle L. Keppley
  • Michael D. Klock
  • Brendan J. Kovach
  • Austin Snyder
  • Jeffrey H. Teeter
  • Sethton A. Wiest


 Interim Principal Named

A long-time Lancaster educator has been named the new interim principal of Harrisburg High School, John Harris Campus.

Acting Superintendent Chris Celmer last month announced the selection of Dr. Jay Vance Butterfield as interim principal. Since 2008, Butterfield has served as director of secondary education for the Lancaster school district.

“The school district of Lancaster is similar to Harrisburg school district, and I am confident that we will be able to make great strides together,” Butterfield said.

The district is currently conducting a nationwide search for a permanent principal, with Butterfield expected to serve in the position until a replacement is named.

In his previous post, he supervised all secondary principals and secondary instructional programs. He also has served as principal of Wheatland Middle School, focus principal of JP McCaskey Campus, principal of McCaskey East High School, principal of Central York High School and assistant principal of Hempfield High School.

At Harrisburg High, Butterfield replaces Jaimie Foster, who was appointed to the post in June after Dr. Janet Samuels was named receiver of the 6,700-student school district. She was the third person to serve as principal over the past year.

“I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with this community to help make John Harris Campus a center of learning and a beacon of hope for the future of Harrisburg,” Butterfield said.

He said that he expects a “safe and orderly environment, where students are in class, learning, each and every period of each school day.”


Capital Region Water Buys Building, Plans Move

Capital Region Water is heading Uptown, with plans to consolidate its staff in a newly purchased office building on Front Street.

CEO Charlotte Katzenmoyer said last month that the municipal water/sewer authority has purchased a two-story building at 3003 N. Front St. in Harrisburg, the former home of Quandel Construction Group.

“CRW has been tossing around this option for awhile,” she said. “We did feel for a long time that a long-term lease was not a prudent financial option for us.”

According to Dauphin County property records, CRW paid $4.4 million for the 37,632-square-foot building, which includes about 70 parking spaces.

Katzenmoyer said that, with its current lease expiring, the CRW board felt that it didn’t make fiscal sense to continue leasing space in its downtown office building on the 200-block of Locust Street. CRW’s predecessor, the Harrisburg Authority, moved into that building in 2009.

“The most cost-effective option for us long-term was purchasing a building,” she said. “We started looking for buildings that fit our needs in terms of space and cost, as well as accessibility for our customers.”

In addition to 35 administrative personnel now located downtown, CRW will move its 15-person customer service staff to the new Front Street location. Customer service is currently located at CRW’s facility at 100 Pine Dr., on the border with Susquehanna Township.

CRW expects to make the move in “mid or late summer,” once the first-floor customer service center is built out, Katzenmoyer said. She added that the rest of the 11-year-old building is in “excellent shape,” needing only some fresh carpet and new paint.

In scouting a new location, parking was an important consideration, she said, as CRW now pays for its staff to park downtown. CRW also wanted its customer service center to be more accessible to transit, so that people could reach their office by bus.

“As we were looking for buildings, it seemed like this was a perfect fit for us,” she said.


Harristown Debuts 3 Apartment Buildings

Harristown Enterprises has largely completed the renovation of three downtown buildings, bringing more than 80 new apartments onto Harrisburg’s housing market.

The city-based company has begun leasing the Fox on Washington, a boutique building with eight units, as well as the BenMar, two adjoining buildings that total 74 units.

“We’re very excited to have reached this important point,” said CEO Brad Jones.

Tenants have already begun to move into the Fox on Washington, a 114-year-old brick building on the corner of S. 2nd and Washington streets in Shipoke.

That 1906 building, originally the Fox Hotel, had long housed Santanna’s Seafood House, with apartments upstairs, but had been empty for decades before Harristown purchased it from UPMC Pinnacle in 2018.

The entire building has now been converted to apartments, with two, two-bedroom and six, one-bedroom units.

On the other side of downtown, Harristown has begun to sign leases for a project on Pine Street called the BenMar Apartments, as BenMar was the original name of one of the buildings.

That project consists of two adjoining, mid-century office buildings that Harristown converted to a mix of one- and two-bedroom residential units. This project began about a year ago.

The larger of the two buildings is at 116 Pine St., with 49 apartments in a mid-

century modern architectural style. The building next door at 124 Pine St., with 25 apartments, has been renovated with a modern farmhouse look. Both buildings date from the mid-1950s.

Rents for all three of the buildings range from $1,050 to $1,475 a month depending

upon the size of the units and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

With these buildings, Harristown has delivered some 150 new apartments downtown over the last few years, mostly converting old, rundown office buildings into residential space. It now is seeking final city approval for another residential project, with plans to convert an office building at 17 S. 2nd St. into 30 new, market-rate units.


Midtown Cinema Renovation Clears Hurdle

Midtown Cinema is a step closer to a major makeover, as the city’s historic review board has given the project its blessing.

Last month, the Harrisburg Architectural Review Board (HARB) unanimously approved plans by owner Lift Development for a substantial renovation of the arthouse theater’s façade.

“We’re very pleased with this result,” said Lift Development principal John Tierney, following the vote.

Tierney said that he expects work to begin this month following the cinema’s annual Academy Awards gala. Construction is expected to take about four months, concluding with the opening of the Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival in June.

The façade will feature a mostly glass exterior topped by a new marquee and new fiber cement board panels. On the east side, a trellis will extend the building’s footprint, with picnic tables underneath for outside seating.

Originally, the trellis was expected to be a mix of metal and wood. However, on Monday, Tierney said that it may be exclusively wood due to higher-than-expected price quotes for the metal component.

The 1940-era building was originally a grocery store and later housed a blood plasma center. It opened as Midtown Cinema in 2001.

HARB had no quibble with the modern-style design, and the city does not consider the building to contribute to the historic nature of the district, according to Frank Grumbine, Harrisburg’s historic preservation specialist and archivist.

“Overall, this project makes [the building] a higher overall quality,” said HARB member Jeremiah Chamberlin.

Several members, though, requested preservation of the existing mid-century-style sign that reads, “Reily. Midtown Center.”

Architect Rich Gribble of Camp Hill-based ByDesign Consultants said that they had a plan for the sign.

“We’d like to take that sign and put it into the new lobby, as opposed to installing it outside, since it’s technically not the name of the cinema,” he said.

Tierney later said that, as part of the renovation, they plan to remove the drop ceiling, opening up the lobby closer to the roofline, which would create enough space to hang the large sign inside.

The cinema plans to remain open during the renovation, though construction work may limit the availability of all three screens and could affect show times.


Home Sales, Prices Up

Home sales and prices both increased in December, as the residential market continued to be strong in the Harrisburg area.

For the three-county region, home sales jumped 15.4 percent compared to the year-ago period, while the median sales price increased 3.6 percent, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR).

In Dauphin County, residential sales rose to 273 units compared to 238 in December 2018, while the median sales price increased to $166,900 from $165,000, said GHAR.

Cumberland County saw sales go up to 283 units versus 234 a year ago as the median price rose to $215,000 compared to $207,900. In Perry County, sales dipped in December to 21 units from 28 units in the prior year, while the median sales price rose to $182,500 from $161,450, stated GHAR.

Throughout the region, the average days on the market fell considerably, down 8.3 percent from the year-ago period, GHAR said.


So Noted

Dallas J. Zulli was named last month as the new chief financial officer and chief operating office of Camp Hill-based Smith Land & Improvement Corp. According to the company, Zulli brings 16 years of experience in commercial banking and real estate finance, most recently as vice president, senior commercial relationship manager, with F&M Trust in the Capital Region.

Harrisburg Young Professionals has announced its leadership team for 2020. Renee Custer is serving as president, Mary Kate Grimes and Faniel Yemane as vice presidents, Monika Kohli as secretary and Nick Barbera as treasurer. All began their terms on Jan. 1.

Jordan Piscioneri of Century 21 Realty Services in Camp Hill has been named 2020 president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, according to GHAR. GHAR also announced that Kelly Spasic with Help U Sell Detwiler Realty in Carlisle is serving as 2020 president for the Greater Harrisburg Realtors Foundation.

Knead Slice Shop opened for limited hours last month at 927 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. The pizzeria, another location for the Broad Street Market favorite, expects to expand its hours through February.

Richard Sills has been named 2020 president of the AACA Museum in Hershey. The museum also added four new members to its 20-member board.

Tom Sposito will serve as chair of the board of directors of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber for 2020, it was announced last month. In addition, Benjamin C. Dunlap, Jr. of Nauman Smith will serve as the CREDC board of directors chair.

Queen’s BBQ & Southern Cuisine expects to open this month at 912 N. 3rd St. in Harrisburg. Owners Anya and Titus Queen have been offering tastes and taking donations since last month, as they make their final preparations for a grand opening.


Changing Hands

Adrian St., 2425: S. & V. Heckman to Z. Kissinger, $69,900

Antoine St., 522: J. Moe to Wells Fargo Bank NA, $55,700

Berryhill St., 2108: K. Nguyen to T. Dinh, $41,000

Berryhill St., 2140: U.S. Bank NA Trustee to PA Deals LLC, $38,550

Berryhill St., 2427: K. McGovern to S. Shrestha, $63,000

Brookwood St., 2320: K. Connor to A. Rahman, $42,000

Burchfield St., 315 & 317: ZTK Properties LLC to Greenbrook Enterprises LLC, $107,000

Calder St., 517: PA Deals LLC to E. Drum, $119,900

Chestnut St., 1907: Tassia Corp. to R. Sherwood, $63,000

Clinton St., 326: Dobson Family Partnership to J. Freiberg & G. Fraizer, $53,775

Crescent St., 349: N. Patel & T. Calle to F. Mejias, F. Ambrocio & G. Marilena, $45,000

Fulton St., 1717: M. Valentin & R. Cruz to D. Canty & D. Muncer, $138,000

Green St., 1407: J. Davis to Alex Manning Enterprises LLC, $69,900

Green St., 1933: J. & A. Rowe to K, & J. Karl, $200,000

Green St., 2001, et al: WCI Partners LP to D&B Legacy, $5,665,000

Green St., 2438: R. Diggs Jr. to I. Almabruk, $59,000

Green St., 3200: T. Martindale to Hoffman Properties LLC, $153,500

Greenwood St., 2518: J. & P. Patel to J. Alvarez, $54,000

Hale Ave., 439: A. Zaheer to M. Ali, $48,000

Hale Ave., 446: H. Phan to A. Mohammed, $75,000

Hamilton St., 234: L. Jones to K. Muncy, $115,900

Harris Terr., 2449: Kalynn Investment LLC to Inoma Properties East Shore LLC, $48,000

Hoffman St., 3214: J. Gantt & H. Mahmood to D. & C. Harmon, $119,000

Hoffman St., 3238: E. Andrade to HBK Properties 1 LLC, $55,000

Hunter St., 1505: R. & M. Caplan to Community 1st Realty LLC, $35,000

Kensington St., 1954: S. Sachdeva to Ruell Rentals LLC, $45,000

Lexington St., 2726: Valley Real Estate Holdings LLC to S. Marouf, $33,000

Locust St., 121: Family Children’s Service to 121 Locust Street LLC, $195,000

Maclay St., 330: Keystone Properties Group LLC to Ruell Rentals LLC, $39,500

Manada St., 2007: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg Area to J. Rutherford Jr., $73,000

Mulberry St., 1158: S. Patel & Slate House Group to SJJR LLC, $67,000

N. 2nd St., 933: C. Annis & S. Dodd to J Matsumoto Holdings Inc., $64,300

N. 2nd St., 1225: S. Shaffer to M. Itterly, $130,000

N. 2nd St., 2015: W. Hoover to J. & K. Miller, $240,000

N. 4th St., 1328: R. & S. Wale to Harrisburg Homes Investment LLC, $42,000

N. 4th St., 2239: I. Druker to A. Britton, $51,700

N. 6th St., 2722: R. & T. Ruiz to S. Morton & R. Bushner, $70,000

N. 6th St., 3123: J. & N. Alishofski to Rustik Touch LLC, $48,000

N. 6th St., 3223: J. & L. Hairston to J. Crossett & M. Hochstetler, $63,500

N. 15th St., 1340: Z. Yap to M. Alvarez, $43,000

N. 17th St., 62: Azzu Rental LLC to M. Reyes, $30,000

N. Front St., 1829, Parking Lot & Common Area: Cityscape Investors II LLC & W. Jackson to Harrisburg Redevelopment Group LLC, $976,924

N. Front St., 1829, Units MBB, MBC, MBD, M1B, M1C, M2A, M2B, M2C, M2D, M2E: Tracy Partners LP to Harrisburg Redevelopment Group LLC, $608,075

N. Front St., 3003: 3003 North Front Street Associates to Capital Region Water, $4,400,000

Park St., 1626: C. Myers to Revive Our City LLC, $30,000

Penn St., 2151 & 2153: Hari Group LLC to R. Rammouni, $30,000

Penn St., 2235: L. & D. Burkhart to M. Brown, $57,000

Pine St., 121: Pennsylvania Tavern Association to Bowser Properties LLC, $89,000

Reel St., 2713: K. Williams to M. Rodriquez, $68,900

Reily St., 210: J. Manzella to M. & J. Good, $134,900

Rolleston St., 1322: K. & P. Ducarme to J. Perdue, $125,000

Rudy Rd., 1829: J. Hocker to Yogi Investments LLC, $40,500

Rudy Rd., 1923: J. & A. Burns to T. Bui & H. La, $65,000

Rudy Rd., 1934: S. Spriggs to M. Lantigua, $85,000

Rumson Dr., 2975: R. & N. Logan to Proline Properties LLC, $44,000

Showers St., 605: J. Moore to E. Hagarty & K. Merritt, $165,000

S. 12th St., 1445: Dobson Family Partnership to W. Gleason, $75,000

S. 12th St., 1502: A. Smithson to W. Taulbee & C. Odoms, $35,100

S. 13th St., 1237: Willow LLC to Maples Property LLC, $160,000

S. 17th St., 101: RCK Properties Inc. to Next Day Marble & Granite LLC, $600,000

S. 19th St., 216: L. & D. Burkhart to L. Thompson, $49,000

S. 19th St., 1336: Kupprat Property & Investments LLC to K. Allison, $89,900

S. 25th St., 438: W. Junkin to CR Property Group LLC, $62,000

State St., 231, Unit 403: C. & G. Freeman to M. Mardenborough, $144,000

State St., 1402: A. & R. Sharp to E. Zeigler, $96,000

Susquehanna St., 1336: Frog Hollow Associates LLC to Green Scapes Investments LLC, $99,659

Susquehanna St., 1816: R9 Holdings to R. & C. Steele, $44,500

Susquehanna St., 2034: F. Stoltzfus & F. Ellenberg to A. Holland, $30,000

Swatara St., 1513: Tri County HDC Ltd. to A. Houtz, $101,900

Swatara St., 2003: D. & K. Condon to C. Lillo, $58,000

Taylor Blvd., 20: US Bank NA to S. Davis, $97,900

Walnut St., 1201: D. Wise to M. Lorenzo, $50,000

Woodbine St., 219: D. Wenner & J. Sourbeer to J. & S. Compton, $72,500

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