Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Large Midtown apartment building gets OK from Harrisburg zoning board

A rendering of the proposed apartment building at Reily and N. 4th streets

A large apartment building proposed for Midtown Harrisburg received a key approval on Monday night, as the project passed muster with the city zoning board.

The Harrisburg Zoning Hearing Board voted 2-0 to approve a variance and several special exceptions for the 155-unit project at 320 Reily St., currently a paved parking lot covering an entire city block at Reily and N. 4th streets.

Several issues were on the table, but most of the two-hour discussion centered on parking for the project, which consists of one- and two-bedroom, market-rate apartments and a 3,000-square-foot commercial space.

As currently configured, the project would be built with 86 parking spaces on site, considerably fewer than the 206 spaces required by city code.

The developer also proposes to use an adjacent parking lot that consists of 72 spaces. Those spaces would be shared with commercial tenants of GreenWorks Development, whose owner, Doug Neidich, is a partner in the apartment project, along with Baltimore-based Washington Place Equities.

The developers told the board that they believed that this amount of parking would be sufficient, saying that some tenants wouldn’t have cars and that most residential and commercial tenants would use the shared lot at different times of the day.

“Statistically, over the course of a day, we feel we have adequate parking for the residential uses as well as the commercial uses that will be … as efficient a use as possible,” Neidich told the board.

The current site of the proposed apartment building is a surface parking lot.

Zoning board members acknowledged that parking presented a difficult challenge.

“The 72-space lot being non-exclusive is sort of contrary to how I understand human nature to work,” said board Chair Thomas Leonard. “I could see squabbles over those spaces.”

The developers told the board that they’d consider other measures to alleviate parking issues, such as mass transit subsidies for tenants and/or a car sharing service like Zipcar.

Board member Shannon Gority added that the 72-space shared lot is lightly used currently and that she believed additional parking would be developed in the neighborhood as demand increased for it.

In fact, earlier this year, the city approved another apartment project two blocks up Reily Street that, under the current design, includes a 500-space parking garage.

In the end, the board voted to grant the parking exception, with the provision that the developers enter into a legally binding agreement linking the shared lot to the apartment building.

Before breaking ground, the developers now must submit a land development plan to the city, which must be approved by the city Planning Commission and City Council.

“It’s a matter of getting a couple of more steps done, and we’ll get moving,” Neidich said, following the meeting.

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