Originally, it was supposed to be a high-rise apartment building—with a huge convention hall, to boot. It was supposed to be 10 to 12 stories tall.
That never happened.
Instead, over the years, the cavernous Hudson building has been everything from a bank to a church to a series of small shops. And, for almost 20 years, it’s simply sat empty and falling apart.
Now, the building, at N. 6th and Maclay streets in Uptown Harrisburg, has a new owner and a new plan, one that includes something city residents have long said they wanted—a grocery store.
“Harrisburg is a food desert, so we plan to have a grocery component,” said new owner Adam Maust, who purchased the property through his company, Mighty Group Holdings LLC. “That’s one of the things that I’m most excited about.”
According to Dauphin County, Maust bought the 50,000-square-foot building and surrounding lots late last month for $425,000 from Philadelphia Suburban Development Corp., a King of Prussia-based commercial real estate development firm. That company bought it in 2004 and never redeveloped it.
The neglect is quite apparent, as the building has deteriorated significantly since that time.
Maust said that he’s putting together a plan for the complete rehabilitation of the structure, with architecture by Camp Hill-based By Design Consultants.
First off, the structure needs to be gutted, as little of the damaged interior is salvageable. He wants demolition to begin next month.
He then plans to ask the Camp Curtin community what it would like to see in the space. He wants to hold community meetings to get the feedback and buy-in of people who live in the neighborhood.
He’s pretty sure that the area needs a grocery store, so that’s high on his agenda. He also plans to move his own Harrisburg-based marketing company, A Mighty Group, into a small portion of the structure. He thinks that a brewery and art studios could be good fits, maybe a restaurant or a coffee shop.
The property includes a parking lot and several empty lots, which he wants to turn into community green space.
“I’m open to any idea,” he said. “It’s really talking to the community to see what makes sense.”
The building began to take shape in 1923 as the Brotherhood Relief & Compensation Fund Building, a railroad workers’ relief fund. It was to include a bank, a convention hall and numerous floors of apartments.
The project, though, soon halted mid-construction and didn’t restart until 1931, eventually finished in its current, two-story form, according to historian Ken Frew’s book, “Building Harrisburg.”
Through the years, the local Hudson family purchased the building, which was divided into a series of storefronts for small shops, all eventually closed. Maust is rebranding the building as “The Atlas.”
Maust said that he wanted to purchase the building for several reasons. First of all, he’s from the area and, he said, loves Harrisburg, so wanted to make a contribution. Secondly, he thinks that the 6th Street corridor is ripe for redevelopment with such projects as the new federal courthouse and the planned state archives up the street.
“I saw this as an exciting opportunity to change Harrisburg for the better,” he said. “I hope this will be an anchor that we can build on.”
He also likes the proximity to the state Farm Show Complex, which is just across the Maclay Street bridge. He said that he easily could see the building serving as an adjunct for large events there, with event and meeting space.
Since the building is so large, there are many possible uses, he said. And, if his project is successful, he might even consider building up, since the stone and steel bottom floors were built to support a 12-story structure.
“This building is an anchor for the entire corridor,” he said. “It will be one of the very best buildings in Harrisburg.”