Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

November News Digest

City Election Marred by “Raffle”

Harrisburg’s uncontested mayoral election last month was supposed to be a sleepy affair, but it was upset by a raffle with apparent connections to a write-in candidate.

A Dauphin County judge issued an injunction on Election Day to stop the distribution of raffle tickets that may have encouraged people to vote a certain way in the race for Harrisburg mayor.

“The Court finds that the raffle ticket is also promoting of a particular race and suggestive of balloting,” according to the court order.

People at many city polling stations were found to be handing out raffle tickets, which promised prizes for voting. These included a new iPhone X (first prize), $500 in cash (second prize) and a $200 Best Buy gift card (third prize).

Dauphin County Sheriff Nicholas Chimienti later visited a downtown office owned by developer Jeremy Hunter, where Hunter stored both raffle tickets and flyers supporting write-in candidate Gloria Martin-Roberts.

Martin-Roberts, however, later denounced Hunter’s efforts, saying she never authorized the raffle or the flyers.

“I clearly told Jeremy, ‘do not distribute any of that information with my name on it,’” Martin-Roberts said. “He does not listen to anyone.”

Hunter also told TheBurg that he spent thousands of dollars in the primary and general elections in support of Martin-Roberts. At press time, those expenditures had not been reported to the Dauphin County elections bureau.

3rd Street Project Starts

Harrisburg officials last month broke ground on the long-awaited repaving of 3rd Street, though most of the work will not start until the spring.

Crews began on the Midtown portion with new curbing and ADA-compliant ramps at intersections. Work is expected to continue through December, depending on the weather, and will resume in March.

The entire project includes about a two-mile stretch of the main artery from Chestnut Street downtown to Seneca Street in Uptown Harrisburg.

Actual milling and paving of the street will hold off until next year, said Mayor Eric Papenfuse. The project is expected to continue throughout much of 2018, wrapping up in October.

Papenfuse stressed that the project is not just for motorists. He said the improvements will make it easier to walk and bike, as well as drive along the street.

“By the time we are done, this entire area will be returned to the residents of the city,” he said.

City Engineer Wayne Martin said that, when paving begins next year, he expects temporary road closures and detours lasting about three days at a time. He also said that some parking, about 10 spaces at a time, will be occupied by construction equipment.

As part of the project, Capital Region Water will install trees and other environmentally friendly infrastructure, including green “bump outs,” to reduce storm-water flow, said CRW board chairman J. Marc Kurowski.

He said the project is part of CRW’s City Beautiful H2O program, which is meant to replace outdated infrastructure and improve storm-water flow.

“We’ll have new trees and new ways to manage storm-water,” Papenfuse said. “This will become a showcase for design for the whole region.”

Harrisburg has contracted with Elizabethtown-based Doug Lamb Construction Inc. for the $5.5 million project, a cost split between the city and CRW. The city is paying an estimated $3.5 million, with CRW footing the remaining $2 million.

Most of the project is funded by a grant from Impact Harrisburg, a nonprofit set up as part of the city’s financial recovery.

City Incumbents Returned to Office

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse sailed to an easy re-election victory last month, despite two candidates mounting late write-in bids.

With all 28 precincts reporting, Papenfuse garnered 3,788 votes. All write-in candidates together tallied 502.

Shortly before the election, two of Papenfuse’s defeated opponents in the Democratic primary, Gloria Martin-Roberts and Lewis Butts, declared that they would mount write-in campaigns in the general election.

With his victory, Papenfuse will begin his second, four-year mayoral term in January.

Five Harrisburg City Council candidates also ran unopposed in their races. Council incumbents Wanda Williams, Shamaine Daniels and Ben Allatt each won four-year terms, as did newcomer Ausha Green. Councilman Dave Madsen earned a two-year seat.

Harrisburg Treasurer Dan Miller and Controller Charlie DeBrunner each ran unopposed and will serve four-year terms.

For school board, all the listed Democrats won four-year seats: Brian Carter, Carrie Fowler, Danielle Robinson and Judd Pittman. Incumbent James Thompson, who lost in the Democratic primary but cross-filed, lost on the Republican side.

Percel Eiland, running unopposed, took the two-year seat for school board.

One district justice seat was contested. In the race for district 12-01-05, Democrat Hanif Johnson defeated Claude Phipps, who was on the Republican ballot, by a vote of 954-347.

In Dauphin County, Republican Matthew Krupp defeated Democrat Diane Bowman in a close race for prothonotary. In the heated contest for three Court of Common Pleas judgeships, sitting Judge Lori Serratelli lost to challengers Ed Marsico, Royce Morris and John McNally.

HU Proposes Downtown High-Rise

A new high-rise may soon add to downtown Harrisburg’s skyline, as Harrisburg University of Science and Technology last month issued a request for proposals for a new, mixed-use building.

According to the RFP, the proposed building at Chestnut and S. 3rd streets would house the school’s emerging Health Science Education Center, from which it would offer degree programs in nursing, pharmaceutical sciences and other health programs.

The RFP is asking for bids of at least 200,000 square feet for educational space, plus housing for more than 300 students. The building, currently proposed to be 36 stories, may also contain amenities such as a boutique hotel, restaurant, executive conference center and/or fitness facility.

The school envisions the building as a high-rise on parcels that include 222 Chestnut St., currently a surface parking lot owned by Vartan Enterprises, and 24, 26 and 28 S. 3rd St., which contain small commercial buildings owned by Mechanicsburg-based Dauphin Land Co. Under the RFP, those low-rise, 19th-century commercial buildings would be demolished.

HU President Eric Darr said that the current property owners have agreed to sell their parcels to HU for the project. He added that the proposed location was perfectly situated between UPMC Pinnacle and the university’s main academic building on Market Street.

“Being a block away from Harrisburg Hospital makes all the sense in the world,” said Darr, who estimates the total cost of the project at $120 to $140 million.

HU has set Feb. 2 as the deadline for responses, with a proposal selection date of April 10. An evaluation committee comprised of members of the university’s executive staff, board of trustees and outside advisers will evaluate the proposals.

Darr said he hopes to break ground in 2019 and that construction should take about two years.

Overnight Shelter Opened

Following a change in policy at Harrisburg’s largest rescue mission, a downtown shelter will open an emergency overnight shelter for 30 homeless men.

Downtown Daily Bread, a soup kitchen and daytime shelter operated by Pine Street Presbyterian Church on N. 3rd Street, got approval from the city to operate a 30-bed men’s shelter from Dec. 1 to March 31 at its facility at 234 South St., according to Anne Guenin, director of Downtown Daily Bread.

Downtown Daily Bread currently runs a daily drop-in shelter where people can nap, shower, receive meals and pick up mail. It serves between 70 and 90 people on an average day, Guenin said.

The night shelter will be in the same facility as the daytime shelter, which operates from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nighttime shelter will open at 7:30 p.m., giving crews time to clean and convert the gymnasium to a dormitory with cots, and will close at 6 a.m.

Guenin said that the shelter originated in response to an operational change at Bethesda Mission, which this year decided to focus its efforts on long-term recovery programs and open its emergency shelter only in extreme weather conditions.

Comp Plan Back on Track

Harrisburg’s long-delayed comprehensive plan appears to be back on track, as the city’s Planning Commission last month agreed on a draft plan and set forth a path for final approval.

The commission unanimously opted for a draft submitted by the Office for Planning and Architecture, a city-based firm headed by urban design consultant Bret Peters.

In May 2015, the city hired Peters for $200,000 to create a comprehensive plan, which cities use as frameworks to guide policy, ranging widely from land use to recreation. Plans typically have a shelf life of only 15 to 20 years, though Harrisburg’s had not been redrafted in some four decades.

Originally, the city expected its plan to be finished in about 10 months. However, a dispute with Peters over the editing process, communication and, especially, pay, led to a long delay.

At one point earlier this year, the city and Peters parted company after Peters wanted more money to complete the project.

That holdup ended with the commission’s decision to go with Peters’ draft, which is now public. A public hearing is slated for Jan. 10.

Following the hearing, the commission may make additional changes based on public input. It then must approve the final draft before submitting it to City Council for its approval.

More Apartments Approved

Harrisburg is poised for more apartment conversions, as the city’s Zoning Hearing Board last month gave the go-ahead to two projects.

The board voted unanimously to permit as many as 18 rental units in Tracy Mansion, which would complete the restoration of the historic Midtown building.

Owner Jack Kay of York-based Susquehanna Real Estate plans between 14 and 18 one-and two-bedroom units in the eastern portion of the century-old building at N. Front and Muench streets, space that has long sat empty.

“All of the existing architectural features will be restored and, if anything, enhanced,” Kay told board members.

Industrialist David Tracy built the 30-room mansion as a private residence in 1918. In 1951, it became an osteopathic hospital and eventually a mental health facility.

Kay bought the building in 2005 with plans to convert it to an office condominium, adding a new, seven-story building in the parking lot next door. He received zoning board approval two years later, but the project died after the recession hit in 2008.

In 2012, Kay sold the western part of the building to Char Magaro, who opened the restaurant, Char’s Tracy Mansion, there.

Kay said that he believes there now is a market in Harrisburg for upscale apartments, which motivated him to seek a special exception for that use. He said that his apartments will be “nice units” with such features as high-end finishes, river views and in-unit washers and dryers.

He said that he hopes to undertake the project next year, but that the timing depends upon securing financing, among other factors. He said that he had not yet determined rental rates, but that they would be competitive with recent projects by Harristown Enterprises and WCI Partners.

Last month, the zoning board also unanimously granted a variance to Harristown for the conversion of a downtown office building to residential space.

Harristown plans to develop 12 one- and two-bedroom apartments from a worn-out, long-empty office building at the corner of N. 2nd and Cranberry streets. It currently has the building under contract with the seller, Camp Hill-based CJ2 Group.

With Planning Commission and zoning board approvals, Harristown now must have its land use plan approved by Harrisburg City Council before it can begin the project.

Water, Sewer Rates Rise

Water and sewer rates in Harrisburg are set to increase more than 7 percent next year, as Capital Region Water passed its 2018 budget last month.

The CRW board unanimously approved the spending plan, which will raise drinking water rates 7.5 percent for all city and suburban customers. Sewer rates will go up by 7.1 percent for city customers and vary for suburban customers, depending on their location.

The 2018 full-service rates for water and sewer service are $9.46 and $6.99 per 1,000 gallons, respectively. Under the new rates, an average customer who uses 4,500 gallons of water per month will pay an additional $5.56.

A few months ago, the board was faced with even higher rate increases, in excess of 10 percent, said board Chairman J. Marc Kurowski. However, CRW was able to scale those back to more reasonable levels, he said.

“Nobody’s excited with having to have rate increases, but we’ve kept them manageable,” Kurowski said.

CRW has raised rates for several years running. For 2017, the utility increased drinking water rates by 11.6 percent and sewer rates by 7.9 percent.

David Nowotarski, CRW’s chief financial officer, said the rate increases were needed, in part, to pay for ongoing capital upgrades to water and sewer infrastructure.

For 2018, CRW expects to spend about $8.9 million for water system upgrades and about $33 million for sewer projects. CRW has several major initiatives in place to repair and upgrade the city’s aged water and sewer infrastructure.

So Noted

Brighter Living held its grand opening last month at its facility at 979 E. Park Dr., Harrisburg. Brighter Living offers daily activities for seniors such as crafting, cooking, watching movies and gardening, as well as therapeutic activities.

Merit Marketing last month acquired Portland, Ore.-based communications firm, LT Public Relations. Harrisburg-based Merit stated that the acquisition strengthens its West Coast presence and gives it a team of senior advisors in media relations, executive training and crisis communications management.

UPMC Pinnacle opened its new medical office, Strawberry Square FamilyCare, last month in downtown Harrisburg. The office features six exam rooms, a laboratory, conference room and waiting area. It is open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located on the first floor, atrium-level of Strawberry Square, adjacent to Rite Aid.

Changing Hands

Balm St., 119: K. & R. Thames to T. McNair, $55,000

Berryhill St., 2216: M. & N. Haile to PA Deals LLC, $31,000

Berryhill St., 2334: W. J. & J. Morrow to X. Rios & L. Vega, $52,000

Berryhill St., 2338: PA Deals LLC to L. Myers, $59,500

Briarcliff Rd., 2311: W. & E. Warren to S. & A. Cornick, $220,000

Briggs St., 2035: L. McArthur to C. & M. Bruner, $64,000

Calder St., 321: C. Steinbacher to R. & F. Armetta, $40,000

Chestnut St., 1200, 1202, 1204, 1206, & 1208: San Pef Inc. to Round Rock Investments LLC, $369,000

Derry St., 2612: J. Beal to T. Dunmyre, $68,900

Evergreen St., 26 & 28: San Pef Inc. to Round Rock Investments LLC, $95,000

Fulton St., 1418: PA Deals LLC to E. Shenk, $109,500

Girard St., 740: I. Naranjo & D. Benitez to O. Caban, $64,000

Green St., 1327: S. O’Neal to B. & S. Cincotta, $118,000

Greenwood St., 2237: J. Erb to A. & S. Rankin, $50,000

Herr St., 1614: T. Lawson to E. Andrades, $52,000

Holly St., 1914: J. Kaffaya to D. Berhe, $43,000

Hudson St., 1215: PI Capital LLC to V. Jackson, $97,000

Hummel St., 342 & 1508 Hunter St.: Equity Trust Co. Custodian Terry Casey IRA to E&K Homes, $34,000

Kensington St., 2335: PA Deals LLC to End Properties LLC, $69,500

Kensington St., 2343: PA Deals LLC to L. Myers, $59,500

Lenox St., 2032: J. & J. Belfonti to S. Ash, $43,000

Linden St., 128: Hal Don Properties LLC to A. Elkanouni, $56,500

Maclay St., 1037: J. & S. Pagliaro to P2N2, $65,000

Mercer St., 2440: T. Carey to D. Chen & M. Brinkman, $55,000

Mulberry St., 2000: L. & R. Moore to P. Robinson, $50,000

N. 2nd St., 912: S. Meyers to J. Radabaugh, $185,000

N. 2nd St., 1215: R. Shultz to R. & G. Armetta, $137,700

N. 2nd St., 2401: R. Buxton to M. Rathfon & S. Ewing, $162,000

N. 2nd St., 3301: D. & C. Gilkey to K. & K. Eshenaur, $197,900

N. 3rd St., 1914: J. Hobbs to J. Vega Jr., $90,000

N. 3rd St., 2016: WCI Partners LP to K. Reed, $212,000

N. 3rd St., 3301: N. Johnson to E. Verbos, $135,000

N. 4th St., 1336: M. Reed to R. & F. Armetta, $80,000

N. 4th St., 1620: Keech Equity Investments LLC to Acharya Rentals LLC, $60,000

N. 4th St., 3116: L. Deatrick to G. & J. Desgres, $90,000

N. 6th St., 930 & 932: K. & N. Galoyan to R. & F. Armetta, $170,000

N. 5th St., 3024: J. Olan to C. Geis, $95,000

N. 6th St., 3020: S. McCutcheon to L. Harris, $70,300

N. 7th St., 2301 & 2327: Sam Hill Properties LLC to DF7 LP, $410,000

N. 17th St., 28: V. Rivas to I. Mirambeaux, $35,000

N. Cameron St., 1301: J. & J. Salinger to R. Chatue & H. Tambo, $295,000

Oakwood Rd., 2301: PI Capitol LLC to J. Swetlick, $280,00

Penn St., 1721: PA Deals LLC to L. Myers, $129,000

Pennwood Rd., 3120: S. McCoy to J. Mohler & J. Suter, $38,000

Pennwood Rd., 3143: F. Travitz to T. Marhon, $85,500

Rolleston St., 1033: V. Clyde to L. Le, $35,500

Rudy Rd., 1959: E. Ripka to J. & M. Weaver, $66,500

Rumson Dr., 2627: G. & G. Chacon to L. & M. Holston, $81,000

Rumson Dr., 2956: A. & M. Berra to R. Gonzalez & M. Cabrera, $68,000

S. 14th St., 1407: R. Williams to City of Harrisburg, $51,000

S. 14th St., 1417: J. Vogelsong to City of Harrisburg, $49,000

S. 14th St., 1421: S. Mosley to City of Harrisburg, $57,000

S. 14th St., 1425: J. Coleman & A. Dannar to City of Harrisburg, $48,500

S. 14th St., 1430: L. & C. Matter to City of Harrisburg, $51,000

S. 14th St., 1438: A. & M. Reuveni to City of Harrisburg, $51,000

S. 14th St., 1444: Atlantic North Star Properties to City of Harrisburg, $55,000

S. 14th St., 1447: C. & F. Randolph to City of Harrisburg, $46,000

S. 14th St., 1451: C. Colon to City of Harrisburg, $57,000

S. 14th St., 1454: J. McFarland to City of Harrisburg, $52,000

S. 25th St., 736: M. Anderson to L. Crowder, $44,500

S. Cameron St., 130: Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co. & Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC to D&F 130 Cam LLC, $161,500

State St., 1326: Arthur A. Kusic Real Estate Investments to C. & T. Semancik, $100,000

Susquehanna St., 1635: R. Drakeford to S. & D. Williams, $99,900

Susquehanna St., 1932: St. Glecos to J. Gallant, $82,450

Swatara St., 1518: Tri County HDC Ltd to D. Kiser, $68,000

Sycamore St., 1625: T. Price to K. Fields, $79,042

Verbeke St., 208: M. Barrette to C. Malloy & K. Sica, $89,999

Wayne St., 1517: R. Palmer to J. Alvarado, $40,000

Harrisburg property sales for October 2017, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.

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