Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

New developers, new plan for dozens of Midtown Harrisburg lots

This city-owned lot at N. 4th and Calder streets is the future site of townhouses under a new development plan for the MarketPlace neighborhood.

There’s a new plan for a broad swath of Midtown Harrisburg, as the city’s redevelopment agency has selected a developer for dozens of long-empty lots.

In a meeting on Friday, the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority chose the city-based development team of Chris and Erica Bryce and Harrisburg Commercial Interiors (HCI) to complete the unfinished MarketPlace development, consisting of 67 lots sprinkled between Reily Street and the Broad Street Market area.

The unanimous vote gave the developers permission to move ahead with their plan, which includes a mix of single-family townhouses, small apartment buildings and mixed-use commercial space.

“I’m very pleased with this decision,” said Chris Bryce, after the meeting. “I think what happened will be great for the future of Harrisburg.”

Their plan bested a competing proposal by Philadelphia-based Odin Properties and Harrisburg-based RB Development, which likewise was seeking “designated developer” status for the lots.

The authority voted 3-0 for the Bryce/HCI proposal, though members did not state why they made their selection.

After the vote, Ryan Sanders of RB Development declined to comment on the authority’s decision.

Both developers are currently active in the Midtown area.

Last year, the authority selected the Bryces/HCI to develop dozens of vacant lots that are part of the unfinished Capitol Heights project just across Reily Street.

They since have received city permission to begin the first phase of that project, which includes a small apartment building, a community center and townhouses along the 1600-blocks of N. 3rd and Logan streets. The project should break ground in October, according to Matt Long of HCI.

Just weeks ago, RB Development received zoning board approval for Bethel Village, a low-income senior housing development at N. 6th and Herr streets. The project is now is in the process of getting its final city approval from City Council.

In their proposal for MarketPlace, the Bryce/HCI development team envisions a total of 104 to 120 housing units, including apartment units and for-sale townhomes. Thirty to 40 will qualify as affordable, bringing the project into compliance with the city’s recently passed affordable housing statute, Long said.

The Bryce/HCI Capitol Heights/MarketPlace plan

The MarketPlace lots have a lengthy history dating back decades, when the city began to clear the area of abandoned and dilapidated buildings.

In 2005, State College-based S&A Homes was chosen to extend the existing townhouse community, but they stopped building in 2009, leaving dozens of lots empty.

Two years ago, the redevelopment authority reacquired the empty lots and chose Harrisburg-based Seven Bridges Development to complete the project, but that company never began construction, leading the authority to seek a new developer.

Long said that he expected the MarketPlace development to start early next year with the townhouse component, with a two-year construction timeframe for the entire project. First, the developers will need to purchase the vacant lots at market rates from the city, Bryce said.

In addition to townhouses and apartments, the project includes some new parking, several green spaces, a dog park and some ground-floor commercial space.

“I can’t wait to put the shovel in the ground,” said Long after the meeting. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Click here to see the Bryce/HCI proposal.

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