Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

June News Digest

HUD Grants Proposed

The annual process of disbursing federal housing funds began last month, as Harrisburg City Council introduced an ordinance that would provide money to nearly a dozen nonprofit groups.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said that the city used the same process in selecting award recipients as last year, using a point-based merit system to judge applications.

“It’s a number of small grants,” Papenfuse said. “It’s not as much as anyone wanted.”

In all, the city will distribute $2.04 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money, a program of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. This amount includes almost $1.9 million from the 2018 allocation, plus a small supplemental amount tied to unallocated funds from a prior year.

Like last year, the greatest single amount of money, $593,423, will go to repay federal loans the city backed during the Reed administration for several development projects, including the disastrous Capitol View Commerce Center project, which went bankrupt before being completed years later by a new owner.

“If we didn’t have an exorbitant debt service, we’d have a lot more money for housing,” Papenfuse said.

Most of the nonprofits proposed to receive funds have gotten some money from previous CDBG allocations. The proposed recipients include:

  • TriCounty HDC: $250,000
  • Habitat for Humanity: $100,000
  • A Miracle 4 Sure: $50,000
  • TLC Work Based Training: $45,000
  • Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministries (C.R.A.M.): $40,000
  • Latino Hispanic Community Center: $25,000
  • Heinz-Menaker Senior Center: $25,000
  • Fair Housing Council: $25,000
  • PPL/IN HOUSE: $20,000
  • Shades of Greatness: $15,000
  • Neighborhood Dispute Settlement: $5,000

Like last year, Tina Nixon, an executive with UPMC Pinnacle, scored the applications, Papenfuse said. While most nonprofits that applied received some funding, several did not make the cut, he said.

In addition, the city is proposing to allocate $321,642 for its housing rehabilitation programs and another $408,765 to CDBG administration.


QOZ Tracts Approved

The federal government last month approved all of the census tracts nominated for a new program aimed at spurring development in low-income communities.

Six of those tracts are in Harrisburg.

“Approval of our nominated tracts is an important step in the process of bringing critical investment and development to these areas,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Designation as an opportunity zone is one piece of the puzzle that can help many of our distressed communities across the commonwealth.”

In April, Wolf nominated 300 low-income census tracts across the state as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ), a status created under the 2017 federal tax reform bill. All were accepted.

Six of Harrisburg’s 14 census tracts were included in Wolf’s submission. The potential investment zones encompass the city’s downtown area south of Forster Street, South Harrisburg, South and Central Allison Hill and the neighborhoods along the city’s Cameron Street industrial corridor.

The QOZ program aims to stimulate investment in low-income communities by providing tax breaks to private investors. It’s expected to defer or reduce capital gains taxes to anyone who invests in funds supporting businesses, real estate and other ventures in the zones.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is still in the process of developing the program, and the IRS is expected to provide further information regarding opportunities for investment in zones in the coming months, according to Wolf’s office.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse has said that the recommended zones aligned with the city’s current development efforts, including the MulDer Square revitalization project and the Paxton Creek reclamation in the industrial corridor.

To qualify for QOZ status, a census tract had to have at least a 20-percent poverty rate or a median family income less than 80 percent of the statewide or regional median income.


State Urges Changes to School District

Soon after wrapping up a protracted battle over its superintendent, the Harrisburg school district may find itself in another personnel battle.

The state Department of Education is asking the district to search for new leadership for its business office, which oversees budgets and financial management.

In a letter to the district last month, department Secretary Pedro Rivera said that the district’s chief financial officer and business manager do not meet the criteria set forth in its five-year recovery plan, which calls for full-time, permanent, highly qualified employees to fill both positions.

The school board has final say on all district personnel actions. But board members, who diverged for the past six months over whether to replace or retain Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney, once again disagree on the need to seek new hires.

Board President Judd Pittman interprets the letter as a directive from the state, giving the district no choice but to replace interim, part-time CFO James Snell and acting Business Manager Bilal Hasan. But board Vice President Danielle Robinson thinks the district should keep the current team.

“It’s not a directive, it’s a suggestion,” Robinson said. “The team we have in place is giving us what we need.”

The business manager and CFO are responsible for developing and managing the district’s $156 million budget. This year, the district faces a shortfall of almost $9 million. The business office has proposed bridging it with a $5 million transfer from its fund balance, $4 million in staff cuts, and a 3.6 percent tax hike.


New Monument to Honor Prominent African Americans

Harrisburg’s Riverfront Park is dotted with historical monuments, but none of them honor African Americans.

A group of citizens hopes to change that.

Members of the Peace Promenade Project are asking city hall to green-light Harrisburg’s first monument to African Americans, which they hope to erect near the corner of Forster and Front Streets by June 2019.

Their proposal calls for a life-size tableau of four Pennsylvania abolitionists and voting-rights advocates: Thomas Chester, a Harrisburg-born journalist and attorney; William Howard Day, the first black school board director in Pennsylvania; Jacob Compton, a pastor who drove Abraham Lincoln’s carriage during his visit to Harrisburg; and Frances Harper, a poet and women’s rights activist.

All except Harper lived in Harrisburg and are buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Penbrook.

“This is an American monument that represents the continuing struggle for the full fulfillment of the 15th amendment,” said Lenwood Sloan, leader of the Peace Promenade Project, which aims to rededicate Harrisburg’s public monuments through a yearlong event series.

Kelly Summerford, another project leader, said that the monument would also offer local students an opportunity to learn about abolition and voting rights.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said he met with the project leaders and enthusiastically supports the project. He also offered to help the group pursue a gaming grant from Dauphin County.

The Peace Promenade group, which counts more than 200 members and 40 supporting organizations, plans to fund the monument through public support, corporate donations and individual giving. They did not announce an anticipated budget.

According to Summerford, the group plans to follow a process used by the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts to commission an artist and develop a design.

They hope to install the monument by “Juneteenth” 2019—the anniversary of June 19, 1865, the official announcement of the end of slavery in the former Confederacy.

At press time, council had not yet affirmed the final allocations.


Harristown Eyes Another Project

Chalk up another apartment conversion for Harristown Enterprises.

The Harrisburg-based company already has converted several rundown office buildings downtown to higher-end apartment buildings. Last month, it announced another—this one at 116 Pine St.

“We feel very good about the rental market,” said Harristown CEO Brad Jones. “We’re trying to create more of a neighborhood downtown.”

The bank-owned, 54,600-square-foot building is on the market for $1.3 million. If Harristown completes the purchase, it plans to convert the circa-1946 building to 44 apartment units, its largest residential project to date.

The five-story building currently houses several different entities, which would be relocated. The longstanding first-floor tenant, Alicia’s Deli, is likely to remain in the building, Jones said.

The building is directly next door to another office building at 124 Pine St. that Harristown currently has under contract from seller Keystone Human Services. City Council approved that project, which includes 25 apartment units and 19 parking spaces, in April.

“Our intent is to build them together and have economies of scale,” Jones said, adding that Harristown expects to invest some $12 million in the projects.

Harristown has long been known as a commercial developer. However, it began to move into the multi-family residential market several years ago, focusing on rehabilitating old, often dilapidated and vacant office buildings, converting them to apartments.


New Owner for Old Waterworks

A Harrisburg-based design and engineering company has purchased the historic Old Waterworks building on the Susquehanna River, with plans to turn it into its new headquarters.

Andculture will relocate from its downtown offices following the full renovation of the 22,000-square-foot building, said co-owner David Hickethier.

The Waterworks is one of only two structures remaining within the confines of Riverfront Park. Portions of the Front Street building date to 1841.

The building served as a pumping station for Harrisburg until 1972, when that use ended following severe flooding caused by Tropical Storm Agnes. The city later converted it into an office building.

In 2002, Mann Realty, a real estate firm, bought the building. Andculture acquired the property from Mann Realty, which is in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for $1.25 million, according to the Dauphin County property database.

“It’s a very unique building,” Hickethier said. “There are only two on that side of Front Street, right on the river.”

Hickethier expects Andculture, a company he co-owns with partners Josh Benton and Evan Keller, to occupy the majority of the building for its main offices and for its business accelerator, Catamaran.

The company may lease out some of the remaining space, especially to complementary businesses, and would like to reserve a portion for public use, possibly for meetings and receptions, Hickethier said.

Since the major city renovation 30 years ago, the building has suffered a few floods and has not undergone a major update. So, Hickethier and his partners plan to mount a complete restoration. The work includes removing drop ceilings, restoring floors, opening up spaces and making substantial repairs.


New Sanitation App

Sanitation and recycling services in Harrisburg are about to get a little more user-friendly.

The city last month announced a new app called Recycle Coach, which allows residents to get the latest information on sanitation services, schedules, what and where to recycle, collection requirements and more.

“[The app provides] details people need to understand, like the way food could potentially contaminate recyclables,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse. “The app addresses all this, and it’s really interesting, easy to use and fun.”

Already used in other states and countries, Recycle Coach is now available for Harrisburg residents. The app is personalized via language, building type (apartment or home) and address. Using that information, six tabs on the home screen offer users various types of functionality, information and additional options.

John Rarig, Harrisburg’s recycling coordinator, said that the Recycle Coach app will help the city get sanitation information out to the public quicker.

“This app will allow us to update information as things change [such as] weather problems and things that we can notify the populous about,” he said. “[Recycle Coach] is very easy to work with, and we think this is a great thing for Harrisburg.”

Harrisburg residents can access Recycle Coach not only from their smartphones, but also via computers and voice assistants such as Alexa.


So Noted

Harrisburg Beer Week last month presented a check for $40,000 to Harrisburg River Rescue and Emergency Services, the beneficiary of the 10-day-long celebration of local craft beer. For the past several years, the River Rescue has used the funds to continue the renovation of its headquarters.

Homeland Center last month dedicated its 6th Street entrance in memory of the late John Crain Kunkel, a U.S. congressman, and his wife Katherine, who served on the board of managers and established what is believed to be the first-ever beauty shop in a long-term care facility, according to the Harrisburg-based care facility. More recently, the Kunkel family made possible Homeland’s 71-bed skilled care nursing pavilion, and their foundation sponsored Homeland’s 150th Gala, said Homeland.

Percel Eiland resigned last month as a member of the Harrisburg school board, having only served about six months. The board will now take steps to find a candidate to fill the remainder of Eiland’s term, which runs until the end of next year.

In Memoriam

Nick Laus, renowned Harrisburg restaurateur, died last month at age 59. Laus founded many restaurants in the area, including Café Fresco, Cork & Fork, Home 231 and Burger Yum, as well as the nightclub, Level 2.

Changing Hands

Adrian St., 2441: G. & T. Spiese to H. Le, $64,000

Bartine St., 1323: E. & G. Solomon to J. Herr, $82,000

Bellevue Rd., 1963: M. Mack to R. Lewis, $54,900

Berryhill St., 2034: D. Smith to S. Griffin, $33,000

Berryhill St., 2400: L. Rich to E. Alcantra, $40,001

Boas St., 304: Calder Street Development LLC to RC Herr, $35,000

Calder St., 264: J. Hummel to L. Boenzli, $127,000

Capitol St., 1218: M. Wickwire to K. Knapp, $118,000

Chestnut St., 2032: W. Noss & R. Maynard to M. Jackson & J. Fulton, $124,900

Delaware St., 259: K. Dyrli to R. Goodfriend, $142,500

Delaware St., 261: C. Hartman to T. Harris & B. Barto, $117,500

Green St., 918: S. Brennan & L. Sterkenberg to S. Lacey, $144,900

Green St., 1328: D. Misner to A. Koser, $116,540

Green St., 1412: J. Kibler to J. Ehring, $70,000

Green St., 1612: H. Task to B. Brubaker, $149,900

Green St., 1946: C. Smith & T. Chickey to P. Sosik, $174,900

Green St., 2321: Willowscott Investment LLC to J. Hofman, $80,000

Green St., 2412: R. Lawson to B. Vargas, $219,500

Hillside Rd., 214: R. & T. Winder to R. Bateman & C. McDonough, $164,900

Hoffman St., 3010: Duetsche Bank National Trust Co. Trustee to Innovative Devices Inc., $41,300

Hoffman St., 3229: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. to B. Foor, $59,000

Industrial Rd., 3900: Supervalue Penn LLC to CF Grocery Distribution & Propco LLC, $85,535,256

Jefferson St., 2645: M. Watson to D. Solomon, $60,400

Kensington St., 2004: JCB Associates & State House Group to A. Ryabukha, $39,000

Kensington St., 2324: A. & M. Oliphant to C. Austin, $59,900

Market St., 1713: LAGR Properties LLC to J. & L. Hendricks, $65,000

Mercer St., 2470: A. Hankerson to A. & M. Allen, $49,137

Muench St., 429: Dobson Family Partnership to Y. & K. Han, $50,000

N. 2nd St., 1521: W. Glover to E&S Properties, $107,000

N. 2nd St., 1803: S. & S. Cooper to Z. Gause, $122,500

N. 2nd St., 1916: C. Bashore to G. Crone, $155,000

N. 2nd St., 2602: K. & K. Fischer to K. Kennedy, $105,000

N. 2nd St., 2953: D. Alvey to PI Capital LLC, $144,401

N. 2nd St., 3209: S. Kumarasingam to Benchmarq Holdings LLC, $65,361

N. 3rd St., 1004, 1006, 1008 & 1010 Susquehanna St.: T. & E. Buda to Maki Developments LLC, $695,000

N. 3rd St., 1010: T. Buda to Maki Developments LLC, $225,000

N. 3rd St., 1725: K. & L. Helm to I. Kazar, $81,000

N. 3rd St., 3004: N. Ernst to K. & A. Brady, $77,000

N. 4th St., 2143: 690 Market Street LLC to R. Joline, $33,000

N. 4th St., 2641: Y. Borras to J. Santiago, $59,000

N. 4th St., 2731: R. Rickabaugh to M. Martinez & M. Price, $111,700

N. 6th St., 1346: J. MacDonald to A. Blank & A. Edwards, $114,900

N. 6th St., 2212: L. Ware Jr. to J. Strain, $60,000

N. 7th St., 1501: AT&T Communications to 1501 Harrisburg Partners LLC, $425,000

N. 15th St., 1431: M. Clark & J. Payton to X. Nguyen, $55,000

N. Front St., 614: Mann Realty Associates Inc. to Granma LLC, $1,250,000

Norwood St., 914: A. Wilhelm to I. Rodriguez, $35,000

Penn St., 1614: M. Smith to J. Napora & S. Bassler, $144,900

Penn St., 1809: K. Hyp to J. Francescangeli & D. Rocklein, $165,000

Penn St., 1931: WCI Partners LP to R. & B. Precourt, $134,900

Penn St., 2327: A. & D. Wilhelm to I. Rodriguez, $35,000

Pennwood Rd., 3139: T. Bendrick to L. Ciambotti, $40,000

Sassafras St., 269: Major League Properties LLC to J. Wenger & J. Noel, $130,000

Shamokin St., 110: M. & K. Patterson to E. & L. Match, $165,000

Showers St., 589: T. Fullam & J. Nugent to M. Albizu, $116,000

S. 13th St., 1510: New Heights South LLC to W. Powell Sr., $49,000

S. 14th St., 1437: W. & G. Powell to City of Harrisburg, $50,000

S. 24th St., 535: S. Leibich to PA Double Dels LLC, $178,500

S. Cameron St., 50, 90 & 112: PA Self Storage One LLC to Amerco Real Estate Co., $1,450,000

S. Cameron St., 1058: M. Tice & APR Supply Co. to JWM Associates LP, $343,700

State St., 120: C. & K. Kokoski to O’Hagan Philadelphia LLC, $190,000

State St., 231, Unit 206: LUX 1 LP to F. Clark, $65,000

State St., 1414: G. Dutan to A. & M. Collins, $113,000

Susquehanna St., 3117: J. Fustine to K. O’Neill & M. Delucia, $197,500

Swatara St., 1517: Tri County HDC Ltd. to V. Miller, $99,000

Wendy St., 1126: 147 N. Cameron Partners LP to Keystone K9 LLC, $415,000

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