A major Harrisburg arts venue is the big winner locally in the annual competition for state redevelopment funds.
The House of Music, Arts & Culture (H*MAC) will receive $1 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), a state program that provides grants for the acquisition and construction of projects deemed important for their cultural, economic, civic and historical significance.
John Traynor, a founding partner, said that the money will help H*MAC (formerly known as the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center) complete the restoration of its building at N. 3rd and Herr streets in Harrisburg.
“I’m very, very pleased,” he said. “This grant is more than a grant to us. It’s a stamp of approval to all the hard work that’s gone into finishing this project.”
A decade ago, Traynor and two partners bought the dilapidated building at 1110 N. 3rd St., formerly the home of the Harrisburg Jewish Community Center and, later, the Harrisburg Police Athletic League.
They initially built out a small performance space and bar on the lower level and opened it as Stage on Herr. They later completed a restaurant and larger bar, the Kitchen at H*MAC, on the main level and then a larger performance space on the upper level now called the Capitol Room.
Traynor said that the RACP grant will allow them to finish restoration of the 10,000-square-foot basement level, turning it into a music school, studio and production facility that he likens to a “School of Rock” concept. It also would permit H*MAC to build a semi-enclosed bar and restaurant area on the roof of the building and complete patio and façade improvements.
“We believe this will be the gem in the crown of Harrisburg, “ he said, adding that this next phase of work would proceed through 2018.
H*MAC received only about one-third of the $3.3 million it applied for, though few projects that are awarded funding receive the full amount. Traynor said that he believed the grant could be leveraged to give him access to additional funds so that the center would be functionally complete.
When H*MAC is finished, Traynor expects to employ more than 80 people, compared to about 30 currently, he said.
In Dauphin County, only two other projects were selected in this round of RACP funding.
Hershey Towne Square received $750,000 for a three-story parking garage. It had requested $2.5 million for the project.
The Salvation Army, Harrisburg Capital City Region, was given $500,000 for its new 39,000-square-foot facility at 29th Street and Rudy Road. It had requested $4.5 million.
“It wasn’t our full request, but we’re very happy to receive this grant,” said Kathy Anderson-Martin, director of resource development.
The grant also may help the Salvation Army leverage other matching funds, she said, raising more money.
Anderson-Martin said her organization has raised about $8 million of a total construction cost of $11 to $12 million. This should allow them to break ground on the facility in the spring or summer of 2018. Already, the site has been cleared and most design work completed, she said.
In all, there were 10 applicants in Dauphin County in this round. The eight applicants denied funding so far are:
- The City of Harrisburg, $14.3 million for a bridge over the railroad tracks at Division Street
- Harrisburg City Islanders, $5 million for a new stadium in Lower Swatara Township
- Harristown Enterprises, $3 million to construct a six-story building at 21 S. 2nd St. in Harrisburg
- Christian Recovery Aftercare Ministries, $650,000 for renovation of its Uptown Harrisburg building
- Tri-County Housing Development, $1 million for Hummel Street redevelopment
- Mulberry Street Properties, $322,311 for Allison Hill revitalization
- Hawthorne SPE, $5 million for its Progress and Linglestown Traditional Neighborhood District project in Susquehanna Township
- Whitaker Center, $5.5 million for a major renovation of its building in downtown Harrisburg
In Cumberland County, the Carlisle Family YMCA was the only successful applicant among five total, receiving $1.5 million, half of its request, for an addition to its facility.
Projects denied funding in the initial round sometimes receive funding in a later round or reapply for the following year.
In all, the state funded 149 projects for almost $188 million in this round, compared to requests for 399 projects worth $1.7 billion.