Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

March News Digest

Harrisburg Proposes Affordable Housing Bill

Affordable housing has been a long-debated topic in city hall, but now it seems that words are translating into action.

Harrisburg proposed a package of affordable housing legislation last month that would incentivize developers to incorporate affordable rental units into their building plans.

“I am very excited about this,” said Nona Watson, director of economic development for the city. “We are well on our way to establishing our affordable housing program.”

The package consists of several bills designed to encourage affordable housing through the use of incentives like tax abatement and zoning relief. Additionally, the city will satisfy street vacation application requirements, if needed.

Other incentives to developers may include density bonuses, which would permit developers to build more units than allowed by right on a property, explained Geoffrey Knight, the city’s director of planning. Incentives may also include reducing parking requirements. Knight explained that research has found that lower-income households are less likely to own a car.

Developers who apply and receive a Certificate of Qualification will have a set of rules they must follow in order to receive benefits.

According to the proposed bill, developers must provide 20% of their units as affordable for low-income households, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The units must be made available to rent at a price that does not exceed 30% of a household’s monthly income.

Additionally, developers need to keep the units at an affordable rent for at least 10 years.

The requirements also state that units must look the same and include the same heating and cooling systems and other improvements as the market-rate units. Affordable housing units must be made available for rent at the same time as market-rate units.

“We want to make sure that what we put out there is actually going to work,” Watson said.

Harrisburg to Buy Former Bank Building

Harrisburg is set to expand its office footprint, adding a new building in Midtown for city workers.

At a virtual legislative session last month, City Council unanimously voted to allow the city to purchase the former M&T Bank building on N. 7th Street to transform into offices for its engineering and traffic departments.

“This is a space that is needed due to the requirement of additional space for the public works engineering department,” said council member Ben Allatt.

In November, council voted to reallocate 2020 funds to purchase the building for $375,000, which Mayor Eric Papenfuse touted as a good deal since it was appraised at $675,000.

Papenfuse said that the $300,000 reduction in purchase price constituted a donation by M&T to the city.

“We’re greatly thankful to M&T for their continued support,” he said.

The ATM machine currently at the building will remain on-site as part of a lease agreement with M&T Bank.

At a prior council session, Papenfuse explained that, as part of PennDOT’s I-83 expansion project, part of the city’s Department of Public Works building on Paxton Street will be lost to eminent domain, requiring the traffic bureau to move. City Engineer Wayne Martin added that the growing department also needs more space.

The traffic bureau likely will share the building with the city’s engineering department, which currently is spread out among different office locations, Martin said. Many engineering employees will move out of the public safety building downtown, freeing up space for the expanding community policing team.

Renovations and remodels of the building are included in Harrisburg’s 2021 budget. It will likely cost around $192,000 for demolitions, renovations, HVAC replacement and security additions, among other items, Papenfuse said. He estimated that the annual cost of utilities and maintenance for the building would be around $60,200.

HHA Announces “Preservation Priorities”

One of Harrisburg’s oldest structures is a top preservation priority for 2021, the city’s principal historic preservation organization has announced.

At a virtual presentation, Historic Harrisburg Association unveiled its top five preservation priorities for the year.

The list includes Balsley House, a dilapidated, double building located downtown at 220 N. 2nd St. Dating back almost two centuries, Balsley House is one of the few remaining federal-period buildings in Harrisburg.

“It’s one of the oldest structures still standing in Harrisburg,” said Sara Sweeney, chair of HHA’s preservation committee. “It’s deteriorating. It’s in very bad shape, especially if you go around to the back.”

The 2,590-square-foot building, owned since 2006 by Dusan Bratic of Mechanicsburg, has housed many different businesses over its lifetime, but has sat empty and increasingly blighted for a number of years.

“We’re hoping to really raise awareness of this property over the next year,” Sweeney said. “With the revitalization that Harrisburg is really primed for, hopefully we can make some strides to bringing this building back to life before we lose it.”

The other properties on the 2021 list are:

  • William Penn High School, Uptown Harrisburg
  • Camp Curtin Memorial Mitchell UMC, Uptown Harrisburg
  • Harrisburg State Hospital campus, Harrisburg/Susquehanna Township
  • Prospect Hill Cemetery Gate House, Allison Hill/city line

William Penn, Camp Curtin UMC and the Harrisburg State Hospital campus are all on the market for sale. Prospect Hill Cemetery Gate House was severely damaged last year when it was struck by a car.

Balsley House, William Penn, Camp Curtin UMC and Harrisburg State Hospital all appeared on the 2019 list, as well.

Sweeney also noted several Harrisburg buildings that have been restored in recent years, calling them “wins.” These include the former Mary K mansions on Front Street, the former Fox Hotel in Shipoke, Locust Street houses downtown and the former Moose Lodge in Midtown.

Eviction Ban Extended

Harrisburg residents behind on rent due to the pandemic can take a deep breath once again.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced last month that he would extend the city’s ban on evictions for another 30 days into mid-March.

“It is important that we continue this eviction moratorium for the health and safety of our residents during these difficult times,” Papenfuse said.

This is the second extension the mayor has enacted since the original eviction moratorium declaration on Dec. 16. The first extension took place on Jan. 16.

Under the moratorium, no resident can be evicted for non-payment of rent or lease expiration. This does not include eviction for other reasons, such as property damage or criminal activity.

“We don’t want to make a homelessness situation worse,” Papenfuse said. “We don’t want to make it harder for people to have safe and reasonable shelter in the midst of a pandemic.”

The original order was adopted after city officials found that there likely would be hundreds of people facing eviction at the start of 2021, since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s moratorium was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. They predicted that there would not be enough shelter space for the increased number of homeless residents. The CDC’s order has since been extended until March 31.

Harrisburg’s declaration gives the city the power to fine non-complying landlords up to $10,000 or 90 days in jail.

Homes Sales Flat, Prices Up

Home sales were generally flat in January in the Harrisburg area, though price appreciation continued to be strong.

For Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties, home sales totaled 502 units, a small decline from 515 units in the year-ago period, but the median sales price shot up to $194,700 versus $179,900 a year ago, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR).

Dauphin County saw a slight bump in sales, which totaled 240 homes versus 238 in January 2020. The median price increased to $174,900 from $169,900, GHAR said.

In Cumberland County, sales declined to 221 residential units versus 228 the prior year, but the median price rose to $224,950 from $195,450, GHAR stated.

Perry County had 29 home sales in January compared to 25 a year ago, as the median price increased substantially to $174,900 versus $141,500 in January 2020, according to GHAR.

Homes were also selling faster in January. The average days on the market dropped to 31 days compared to 42 days a year earlier, GHAR said.

So Noted

Dauphin County Library System won a Dauphin County “Premier Project Award’’ from the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission for its “Your Place to Belong” campaign. The campaign focused on expanding the McCormick Riverfront Library with the restoration and linking of an adjacent historic townhome.

DTLR/Villa has made a temporary move to 309-311 Market St., the former location of Rite Aid. The clothes and athletic wear store will return to its permanent location at 333 Market St. later this spring following an extensive renovation and expansion of that space.

Harrisburg University and Lackawanna College have signed an agreement that will make it easier for Lackawanna College students to continue their education at HU. Under the agreement, qualified students who earn an associate of science degree in cyber security from Lackawanna College will be able to transfer into HU’s bachelor of science in cyber security operations and management program at junior level standing.

Harry’s Bistro has opened in a classic steel diner at 1933 Herr St. in Harrisburg, serving breakfast and lunch. The father/daughter duo of Lou and Anna Vazquez named their business for the venerable Allison Hill tavern that operated for five decades, modeling some of their menu after classic Harry’s dishes.

“Ice in the Burg” takes place this month at locations around Harrisburg. The three-day festival starts March 5 with a drive-through ice sculpture display on City Island. It continues on March 6 and 7, when over 40 small and large sculptures will be placed at locations around the city.

New Cumberland Food Truck & Restaurant Rally
kicks off for the season on March 11, held each second Thursday through December at Market Square in New Cumberland. The event, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will feature numerous food trucks, and some local businesses and restaurants also will host specials and entertainment.

Changing Hands

Allison Ct., 4: Lemoyne Land Corp. Inc. to F. Hench, $96,200

Berryhill St., 2410: J. Washington to J. Anthony & D. Hill, $64,900

Brookwood St., 2436: E. Noon to C. Austin, $73,000

Calder St., 268: B. Roller to S. Elias, $138,000

Chestnut St., 1955: P. Trustey to A. Luchansky, $62,500

Chestnut St., 2306: M. O’Donnell, A. Sullivan & C. Walsh to N. Etter, $173,000

Emerald St., 317: PNC Bank to C. Brown, $47,500

Forrest St., 603 & 605: B. & C. Rucker to Neidlinger Enterprises LLC, $59,000

Greenwood St., 2712: P. & Q. Ritter to G. Burke, $85,000

Hamilton St., 279: W. Hoover to J. Eaton, $220,000

Herr St., 415 & 426 Snipe Alley: K. Baran & R. Gillis to D. & H. Bliss, $120,000

Holly St., 1805: BSR Rental Trust to Fine Line Real Estate LLC, $56,000

Hummel St., 210: ICE Properties to Brethren Housing Association, $85,000

Kensington St., 2006: D., S. & B. Zimmerman to S. Carr, $60,000

Kensington St., 2436: L. Sim to C. Zapata, $64,000

Lewis St., 313: S. & B. Ballenger to R. Freeman, $96,500

Liberty St., 1415 & 1417: L. Wigington to Blue Door Management LLC, $40,000

Logan St., 2347: RT Propertiez LLC to S. Maurer, $30,500

Lowell St., 1309: C. Lindberg to Dinh Investments, $40,000

Luce St., 2324: CR Property Group LLC to Ryan Randall Properties LLC, $121,000

North St., 1511: Y. Reuvenny to S. Gross, $56,000

North St., 1827: W. Cajina to G. Osborne, $89,900

N. 2nd St., 1211: Mussani & Co. to N&R Group LLC, $240,000

N. 2nd St., 1430: J. Rotegliano to Harrisburg Apartments LLC, $135,000

N. 2nd St., 1615: S. & D. Miller to MR RE LLC, $128,000

N. 2nd St., 2009 and 2000 & 2002 Penn St.: L. Rotegliano to HBG Apts LLC, $110,000

N. 2nd St., 2343: S. & T. Dunford to I. Stubblefield, $180,000

N. 2nd St., 2802: S. Gallagher & C. Prestia to P. Kessler, $200,000

N. 3rd St., 1626: C. Grilli to D. & M. Soisson, $150,000

N. 3rd St., 1910: Integrity First Homebuyers LLC to D. Roa, $35,000

N. 4th St., 2033: J. Frey to SPG Capital LLC, $62,000

N. 4th St., 2543: L. Deatrick to Neidlinger Enterprises LLC, $55,000

N. 5th St., 2546: TKO Rental Properties LLC to A. & A. Volk, $86,000

N. 6th St., 2001: Jamil Karimm LLC to D&F Realty Holdings LP, $300,000

N. 6th St., 3152: Neidlinger Enterprises to K. Scheurer, $115,000

N. 19th St., 43: Equity Trust Co. Custodian Julie Burns IRA to D. Boyle, $34,250

N. Front St., 1525, Unit 412: H. Garner to M. Colton & K. Tennis, $160,000

Norwood St., 925: M. Archie to T. Higgins & S. Owens, $145,000

Park St., 1837: KBR Group LLC to AP Properties Services LLC, $30,000

Parkway Blvd., 2437: KMM Development LLC to T. Washington, $179,500

Penn St., 1616: P. Bayer to Veso Properties LLC, $45,000

Penn St., 2322: BSR Rental Trust to D. Nguyen, $50,000

Rolleston St., 1244: Integrity First Home Buyers LLC to Whitestone Development LLC, $109,995

Rumson Dr., 361: H. & M. Miller to M. DePasquale, $44,000

Rumson Dr., 2970: D. Myers to S. Russell, $106,000

S. 13th St., 1413: C. Littles to Integrity Home Buyers LLC, $40,500

S. 13th St., 1466: Integrity First Home Buyers LLC to 1466 S. 13th LLC, $100,000

S. 18th St., 317: M. & M. Perry to F. Ramirez, $40,000

S. 19th St., 10: D. Lightner to J. Gritten, $67,000

Susquehanna St., 1816: R. & C. Steele to M. Bush & S. Anderson, $179,500

Swatara St., 2239: H. Drothler to Fine Line Real Estate LLC, $75,000

Taylor Blvd., 52: V. & S. Vdov to F. de Perez, $120,000

Valley Rd., 2300: M. & R. Lewis to S. & S. Anthony, $269,000

Waldo St., 2618: Midatlantic IRA LLC Cynthia Hampton IRA to F. Sisic, $53,000

Walnut St., 1936: M. Molinar to A. Ryabukha, $87,000

Harrisburg property sales for January 2021, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.

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