Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

More apartments headed for downtown Harrisburg as building project evolves

Plans have changed for 17 S. 2nd St. (building on left) and 21 S. 2nd St. (empty lot on right).

A plan for a downtown Harrisburg office building has evolved and now will consist of two separate projects—one residential and one office.

Harristown Enterprises has decided to split a Market Square project into two pieces, said CEO Brad Jones.

The first building, an existing, century-old office building at 17 S. 2nd St., now will become a 30-unit, market-rate apartment building with a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, with retail or restaurant space on the first floor, Jones said. That six-story project will go before the city’s Planning Commission next month.

The neighboring building, new construction at 21 S. 2nd St., still will become an office building, Jones said.

Originally, Harrisburg-based Harristown had planned one large, interconnected office building spanning both sites, but hasn’t been able to secure an anchor tenant for it.

“The original plan was to do an office complex,” Jones said. “We spent the last year shopping that concept. We had a number of prospects, but didn’t find the right deal on that.”

In 2017, Harristown acquired 21 S. 2nd St. and later knocked down the small, dilapidated building on that site, which now is an empty lot. Last year, it bought the building next door, 17 S. 2nd St., most recently the home of the Skarlatos & Zonarich law firm, which has relocated to Strawberry Square.

Jones said that he didn’t want 17 S. 2nd St. to sit empty, possibly for years, while his company searched for a large anchor tenant for the office complex, nor could Harristown build it on spec. So, they decided to convert that existing building into apartments, as demand has been strong for other downtown residential projects.

Over the past few years, Harristown has built—or is building—about 150 apartment units in downtown Harrisburg, mostly conversions from aging office buildings. Its largest project, two attached, mid-century buildings on the 100-block of Pine Street, will deliver 74 units early next year.

Meanwhile, Harristown continues to search for an anchor office tenant for 21 S. 2nd St. Jones said that he envisions that new building to be four to six stories tall, with 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of new office space. Harristown would like to break ground on it in 2021, but timing depends on interest, as the company requires at least 50 percent of the space to be pre-leased to start construction, he said.

“There’s a sense of urgency on both of these projects,” Jones said. “We’d like to do them as quickly as possible.”

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