Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

October News Digest

Eric Papenfuse last month announced a write-in campaign for mayor.

Papenfuse Declares for Mayor as Write-In

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse made it official last month, declaring that he is running as a write-in candidate in the November general election.

Papenfuse made the announcement while standing in front of the Hudson Building, recently renamed the Atlas, a structure in Uptown Harrisburg undergoing extensive renovation.

He stated that he decided to run for a third term, despite narrowly losing the Democratic primary in May, based on his track record of fiscal management and rebuilding the capacity of city government, along with a pledge to forge a coalition across the city.

“I plan to lead by decisive outreach in a way that brings in people and has their voices heard in ways that they haven’t been heard before,” he said.

In May’s Democratic primary, Papenfuse lost by 46 votes to City Council President Wanda Williams. Two other candidates, David Schankweiler and Otto Banks, also tallied more than 20% of the vote in the five-person race.

Recently, Papenfuse named Banks as the city’s new economic development director.

“There was no mandate in the primary,” Papenfuse said. “If there was any lesson from the primary, it’s that we have to build a broader coalition. We have to work together, and I’m the candidate for that.”

Write-in campaigns are rarely successful, as the candidate’s name does not appear on the ballot, forcing voters to take an extra step to write in their choice.

Papenfuse said that he believed he could defy the odds, describing his decision to run as a write-in as a “long process.”

“I really took some time over the summer to think about what I wanted to do,” he said. “The way I saw it, I could either give up and watch the city fall apart or I could fight to keep the ship from sinking and keep us on course.”


Ribbon Cut on Herr Street Underpass

Harrisburg has cut the ribbon on a significant road reconstruction, restoring a major connection point between neighborhoods.

Last month, city officials ceremoniously reopened the updated Herr Street underpass, which connects Midtown/downtown and Allison Hill.

The roadway, just off N. 7th Street, dips under the Norfolk Southern railroad and connects to N. Cameron Street.

For years, the entity responsible for maintaining the underpass was under dispute, with the city and Norfolk Southern clashing on the issue, according to Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

In turn, the roadway and sidewalks deteriorated, and the steel underpass was in danger of structural failure, Papenfuse said.

“It was pretty awful,” he said. “Historically, this was something of a no man’s land.”

In the end, the state Department of Transportation worked with the city to repave the street, redo and widen the sidewalks, create new inlets and drainage systems and clean and fortify the steel columns under the railroad. The city also contributed new LED lighting.

Papenfuse also pointed out that the sidewalks are bike-friendly and connect riders to the new bike lanes on N. 7th Street.

In total, the project cost near $2 million, largely from PennDOT funds, with contributions from the city.


Harrisburg Plans New IT System

Decades after it was installed, Harrisburg’s aged mainframe appears headed for the scrap heap, as the city plans a major upgrade of its municipal computer system.

City Council, at a legislative meeting last month, passed a resolution that will start the process of phasing out the city’s existing, outdated mainframe and implementing new, more efficient IT systems.

“It’s about time,” said council vice president Ben Allatt, a sentiment echoed by other members.

The current system is about 35 years old, according to Steve Zimmerman, a former director of information technology for Harrisburg, who will provide consulting to the city on the legacy system. The city will pay Zimmerman up to $135,000 for one year of consulting work as it transitions off the old mainframe.

The city then will use Texas-based Tyler Technologies, a software company that works in the public sector, to complete the upgrade.

Over the next two years, the tech company will introduce an enterprise resource planning system that will manage day-to-day internal activities such as accounting, budgeting, payroll, scheduling and tax billing.

Harrisburg residents may also see some benefit from the upgrade, as it impacts businesses license and dog license registration, building permits access and online payments.

Tyler Technologies also provides contracting for the Harrisburg School District and works with over 100 entities in the state, said Terry Quinn, senior account executive of Tyler.

The initial cost of the conversion is about $651,000 with an annual cost of $331,000, Zimmerman explained. The existing system currently costs the city $504,000 annually, he said.


New Community Relations Director

A key member of the Harrisburg Police Bureau was introduced last month, tasked with creating conversations and enhancing understanding between the bureau and residents.

At a press conference, Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced Harrisburg native Fiordaliza “Ana” White as the bureau’s new director of community relations and engagement.

“She really brings a wealth of knowledge around topics such as community policing, crisis management, public relations, strategic partnership and mental health,” Papenfuse said.

White’s position was previously held by Blake Lynch, who recently left the bureau after three years for a position with the public media organization, WITF.

White, who speaks both English and Spanish, graduated from Harrisburg High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in educational studies and sociology from Denison University. She also serves as the director of programming for Bro2Go, Inc., a youth and adult reentry intervention and prevention program.

In her new role, White oversees the six new community service aides (CSAs) hired by the bureau to build relationships with residents, as well as assist officers with quality-of-life issues. They are:

  • Vanessa Bowers
  • Myron Brooks
  • Rayshawn Brown-Donald
  • Malachi Holmes
  • Jeret Spears
  • Sierra VanSickler

The police bureau is recruiting for a seventh CSA position.


New Plan for MarketPlace

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 in late August, 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, a project totaling 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. Earlier in August, RB Development received zoning board approval for Bethel Village, a low-income senior housing development at N. 6th and Herr streets.

In the proposal for MarketPlace, the Bryce/HCI 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, according to Matt Long of HCI. 


Federal Building for Sale

For a bid of at least $3 million, you could be the next owner of one of the most valuable parcels of land in downtown Harrisburg.

A somewhat dated, 246,000-square-foot building conveys with the property.

The federal General Services Administration posted notice last month that it is selling the Ronald Reagan Federal Building at 228 Walnut St. To bid in the online auction, a deposit of $100,000 is needed, with a minimum bid of $3 million.

The 11-story building was built in 1966 and is one of the largest freestanding office buildings in Harrisburg, occupying a full city block at N. 3rd, Walnut and Locust streets. In addition to nearly 250,000 square feet of finished space, it has a 55-space parking area in the basement.

GSA wants to sell the building as it nears completion of the new federal courthouse, a 243,000-square-foot building at N. 6th and Reily streets. GSA expects substantial completion of that project in summer 2022.

The Ronald Reagan Federal Building houses the current courthouse operations, in addition to other federal agencies with Harrisburg-based offices. Some of these offices, such as the U.S. Marshal Service, are slated to move to the new courthouse.

The Reagan building also houses a U.S. post office. GSA has not yet made public its plans for the post office.

Sale of the property had been in the cards for several years. In 2019, the Public Buildings Reform Board listed the property as one of 14 federal properties slated for disposal.


Area Home Prices Rise

Sales declined a bit, but prices increased considerably, as the area’s real estate association released its existing home sales report for August.

In the three-county coverage area, sales dropped to 810 housing units compared to 866 in August 2020, but the median sales price rose by 9.3% to $235,000, according to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors (GHAR).

The Dauphin County market experienced substantial price appreciation, as the median sales price of a house jumped to $216,000 versus $170,600 last August. The number of houses sold dipped to 376, a decline of nine units, GHAR stated.

In Cumberland County, sales fell by 16 units to 380 houses, while the median sales price rose to $265,000 from $240,000 the prior August, according to GHAR.

Perry County had 41 home sales, a decline of two compared to last August, as the median sales price increased to $230,000 from $149,900 last year, GHAR said.

Houses were also selling quickly. According to GHAR data, the “average days on the market” in August was just 17 days, compared to 35 in August 2020.


So Noted

Broad Street Market reached its fundraising goal last month to repair and replace its large, notable sign. A $10,000 donation from the nonprofit, Lighten Up Harrisburg, pushed the campaign over its $40,000 goal, allowing the project to proceed following severe, storm-related damage to the sign.

Friends of Midtown Community Dog Park closed last month, as a three-year stint at a temporary location at N. 7th and Granite streets came to an end. Organizers are now seeking a new location that can serve as a permanent home for a dog park.

Melissa Mann last month was appointed the new director of the PA Historical & Museum Commission’s Bureau of Historic Sites & Museums. In this role, Mann will supervise the commonwealth’s 24 state-owned historic sites and museums, according to PHMC.

Michael Philip O’Brien has been named the new executive producer of Gretna Theatre in Mount Gretna. He replaces Brian Kurtas, who left to become the new associate artistic director of the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

Midtown Cinema announced major personnel changes last month, naming Rachel Landon as general manager and Stacey Werner as assistant manager. They replace long-time director of operations Adam Porter and assistant manager Sammi Leigh Melville. Porter left to focus on his business, StartUp Harrisburg, as Melville finishes up her second novel.

Otto Banks last month was named Harrisburg’s new economic development director. Mayor Eric Papenfuse appointed Banks, who opposed him in the Democratic primary for mayor last May, to replace Nona Watson, who left the post several months ago.


Changing Hands

Adrian St., 2422: W. & B. Flagle to SPXT PA LLC, $83,750

Bellevue Rd., 1959: D. Hargrove & D. Surbrena to E. Ford, $62,000

Bellevue Rd., 2101: J. & E. Lewis to C. Dozier & H. Abraham, $324,900

Berryhill St., 1708: C. Zapata to A. Herr, $68,000

Berryhill St., 2310: L. & G. Smith to N. & Y. Reinoso, $105,000

Boas St., 116: J. Crouch to M. Manley & S. Clark, $186,500

Boas St., 265: 265 Boas Associates to SJL Rentals LLC, $562,000

Boas St., 1824: Integrity First Home Buyers LLC to M. Freeman, $77,450

Briggs St., 1621: D. Floyd to K. & S. Green, $36,000

Brookwood St., 2440: M. Russell to B. Sium, $90,000

Brookwood St., 2442: D. Lawson & C. Jenkins to Alliance Estates LLC, $84,900

Capitol St., 907: E. Ashenfelder to J. Schmucker & C. Snook, $167,000

Cumberland St., 214: M. Santalucia to C. Anderson, $190,000

Cumberland St., 272: B. Hall & K. Humen to E. Maxson, $169,900

Derry St., 1727: D. Boyle to V. Severino, $30,000

Derry St., 1942: J. Wissler to 946 South 18th LLC, $60,000

Derry St., 2114 & 2116: MRI Properties LLC to P. Singh, $180,000

Derry St., 2405: J. Schwartz to R. Smith, $95,000

Derry St., 2508: B. Bandy to M. & S. Mejia, $85,000

Derry St., 2614: J. & T. Aitken to J. Klinger, $87,000

Emerald St., 519: J. Perkins to C. Aumuller & P. Carcione, $52,000

Fox Ridge Ct., 305: J. Sprajcar to T. Thompson, $165,000

Green St., 706: J. Choi & J. Crumbly to R. Eppley Jr., $207,000

Green St., 1113: M. Labuz to Eastlake Eleven LLC, $167,000

Green St., 1310: A. Johnson to K. & K. Daczka, $179,900

Green St., 1904: R. & A. Gonsar to T. Luckenbaugh, $237,500

Green St., 2046: HAMR Property Services LLC to CWJK Holdings LLC, $161,875

Green St., 2334: Phantom Property Investments LLC to J. Fermin, $120,000

Green St., 3113: M. Jarvis to M. & C. Rinkoff, $228,000

Greenwood St., 2118: MCCJ Properties LLC to SPG Capital LLC, $58,000

Hale Ave., 383: S. Henry to J. Jones, $75,000

Hamilton St., 201: Braxley Renovations LLC to SJL Rentals LLC, $205,000

Herr St., 206: S. Ntzanis to Z. & A. Martin, $161,000

Herr St., 226: V. Wills & R. Moore to D. Hack & B. Blakistone, $209,900

Herr St., 309: N. Kresge to M. Connors, $240,000

Herr St., 1823: M. Murphy, K. Seidel & Murphy Rentals Inc. to H. Toledo Jr., $59,900

Hummel St., 431: Bell Group LLC to Hillside Financial LLC, $120,000

Jefferson St., 2450: B. Koshkarian to Integrity First Home Buyers LLC, $73,500

Kelker St., 215: M. Novosel to A. & J. Bert, $115,000

Kensington St., 2037 & 2039: J. Echegaray to SNB Real Estate Solutions LLC, $110,000

Kensington St., 2262: R. Eden & PA Housing Finance Agency to D&A Homes LLC, $54,000

Kensington St., 2365: C. Woods to A. Pellegrini, $100,000

Linden St., 125: CR Property Group LLC to S. Tolopilo, $125,100

Mercer St., 2446: F. Beshara & L. Zeller to D. Sherer & M. Cohn, $106,000

Mulberry St., 2000: P. Robinson to J. Hunter, $105,000

Naudain St., 1421: Gary Neff Inc. & City Limits Realty to G. Ajakaye, $47,500

N. 2nd St., 709: KBH Properties to J. & K. Staz, $128,000

N. 2nd St., 1105: HAMR Second Street LLC to CWJK Holdings LLC, $161,400

N. 2nd St., 2315: H. Bower to J. Pulley, $159,900

N. 2nd St., 2333: C. Cullis to L. & J. Casey, $105,750

N. 2nd St., 2515: P. Burke to T. & B. Groce, $257,000

N. 2nd St., 2625: R. Morning to K. Boyer, $280,000

N. 2nd St., 3019: J. Erb to J. Steinbrunner, $180,000

N. 2nd St., 3232: J. Dresslar & W. Cleary to Alkaline Properties LLC, $95,000

N. 3rd St., 2251: M. Erazo to D. Riley, $126,000

N. 3rd St., 2550: N. Mindlin & J. Cutler to A. & I. Hermantin, $279,000

N. 4th St., 3209: M. Schuessler to T. & J. Perla, $88,512

N. 5th St., 1700: N. McWhite to Taylor Made Properties LLC, $61,001

N. 5th St., 1719: R. Cieszynski to Alkaline Properties LLC, $95,000

N. 6th St., 1500: P. Stier to L. Grossberg & J. Maes, $472,500

N. 6th St., 2901: Firetree Ltd. to Loving Handz Early Learning & Development Center Inc., $175,000

N. 6th St., 3105: K. Kissam to C. Penney, $117,900

N. 7th St., 2148: Tang & Perkins Property Management LLC to SPG Capital LLC, $47,500

N. 13th St., 18, 20 & 22 and 13 & 15 Linden St.: M. Lamereaux & S. Brady to E. Rodriguez & M. Taveras, $225,000

N. 14th St., 226: J. Bowen to Fernandez Realty Group LLC, $68,000

N. 14th St., 1203: N. Barber to FRDOCE03 LLC, $55,000

N. 16th St., 1103: RJ Schultz Enterprises Inc. to J. & J. Izurieta, $98,000

N. 18th St., 47: Great Row LLC to T. Paul, $45,900

N. 19th St., 709: J Linc Holdings LLC to Wisechoice USA LLC, $39,000

N. Front St., 1013: B. Rota to J. Charles Realty LLC, $250,000

N. Front St., 3211: 3211 Front Associates LLC & In Touch Holding to Empire Front Street LLC, $3,770,000

Park St., 1630: L. Palmer to Integrity First Home Buyers LLC, $67,500

Penn St., 1311: Integrity First Home Buyers LLC to 1311 Penn Street LLC, $139,900

Penn St., 1612: N. & C. Giustra to M. Bravo, $208,400

Penn St., 2224: K. Lawler to A. Luchansky, $74,900

Penn St., 2313: M. Bekelja to SPG Capital LLC, $67,500

Reel St., 2616: E. Chattah to Integrity First Home Buyers LLC, $79,300

Regina St., 1819: J. Carmona & K. Contreras to M. Pichardo, $

Reily St., 430 & 432: Dobson Family Partnership to 400 Reily Street LLC, $300,000

Rolleston St., 1042: D. Lispi to R. Kinnard, $200,000

Rumson Dr., 2983: J. Jones to C. Caraballo, $100,500

Schuykill St., 536: E. Chattah & Y. Guhl to Integrity First Home Buyers LLC, $90,500

Seneca St., 262: CR Property Group LLC to C. Drayton, $59,900

S. 12th St., Neidlinger Enterprises LLC to M. Dalupang, $130,000

S. 14th St., 429: A. & T. Scott to C. Heras & W. Salinas, $53,000

S. 15th St., 17: H. Sostre & M. Gonzalez to F. Contreras, $85,000

S. 18th St., 14: K. Moore & Habitat for Humanity of Greater Harrisburg Area to Integrity First Home Buyers LLC, $59,000

S. 18th St., 28: RJ Schultz Enterprises Inc. to Moxie Properties LLC, $51,000

S. 21st St., 932: RTD Properties & Management to K. Ferrera, $57,000

S. 23rd St., 647: L. & M. Chen to J. Mears, $100,000

S. 25th St., 602: RDR Property Management LLC to D. Glatfelter, $68,000

S. 27th St., 734: B. McCann to D. Smith, $98,000

State St., 231, Unit 602: LUX 1 LP to R. Murcia, $140,000

State St., 1847: Blue Door Management LLC to Bridger Investments LLC, $40,000

Susquehanna St., 1809: S. Sehar to SPG Capital LLC, $82,500

Susquehanna St., 1839: S. Conover to E. Lindsay, $160,000

Vernon St., 1343: R. & D. Kauffman to J. & C. Glick, $60,000

Washington St., 111: C. Altman to O. Hannah, $170,000

Yale St., 225: L. & L. Napier to J. Camacho, $63,000

Harrisburg property sales for August 2021, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.

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