Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Move In Day: First MulDer Square house sold, ready for new owners.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, joined by other local officials, prepares to cut the ribbon to the first renovated house in MulDer Square.

A family on Hummel Street will get the keys to their new house today, but their path to homeownership wasn’t a typical one.

The purchase of a newly renovated home at 243 Hummel St. marks the first sale in a long-term community development project that aims to raise property values in and attract private developers to Allison Hill’s MulDer Square. Overall, more than $20 million is expected to flow into the area in the coming years.

“This is the rebirth of the MulDer Square neighborhood,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said at a press conference this morning, just hours before the sale was scheduled to close.

Papenfuse noted that the $70,000 sales price of the home was almost twice the median value of other single-family properties in the neighborhood. He said that the buyer, a woman with two children, qualified for homeownership assistance programs through the city and Dauphin County.

The family’s mortgage will be less than $500 per month, and they will pay only $45 in property taxes each year thanks to Harrisburg’s LERTA tax abatement program.

The goal of these programs is to make homeownership affordable to low- and moderate-income families, officials said. Gary Lenker, executive director of Tri-County HDC, said that families must make at least 80 percent of the city’s median family income to qualify for HDC’s homebuyer programs. The median is currently $53,800 for a family of three, he said.

Lenker and Papenfuse said that the Hummel Street property was dilapidated when it was acquired by Tri-County HDC, but not as severely blighted as other parcels on the street. Tri-County HDC gut-renovated the four-bedroom, 1.5-bath home and plans to give the same treatment to three more single-family units on the street this year.

Tri-County has also demolished blighted properties, including five fire-ravaged townhomes. The organization expects to level that empty lot and prime it as a site for future building.

Papenfuse said that filling in vacant lots and rehabilitating existing structures will “change the fundamental perception of the neighborhood.” In time, he also hopes that a more robust real estate market will draw private developers into the neighborhood.

“In a few years, this should be a wonderful neighborhood in which to live and walk to work,” Papenfuse said.

Residents, for their part, are happy to see visible change to the neighborhood.

“It makes us feel good that we’re seeing the progress of our efforts,” said Shirley Blanton, a Tri-County HDC board member who lives on Berryhill Street.

The investments in MulDer Square are part of a multi-partner community development project that began in 2016. That year, PennDOT made $14 million in improvements to the Mulberry Street Bridge, which connects Mulberry Street in Allison Hill to 4th street in downtown Harrisburg.

In addition to the city and Tri-County HDC, the Harrisburg Housing Authority, Brethren Housing Corp., Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority, Tri-County Community Action and Capital Region Water have all pledged to rehabilitate properties and infrastructure in the neighborhood.

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