Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Ready, Set, Build: Harrisburg University marks start of tower project with groundbreaking.

City, Harrisburg University and project officials turned the dirt this morning at the ceremonial groundbreaking of HU’s new downtown tower.

It was all smiles in downtown Harrisburg this morning, as elected and Harrisburg University officials broke ground on HU’s 17-story tower.

Located at S. 3rd and Chestnut streets, the $130 million, 386,208-square-foot building will house HU’s new Health and Science Education Center, which will be home to at least 1,000 health science, advanced manufacturing and interactive media students.

“This project represents a major step forward for the university,” said Eric Darr, president of HU. “Not just because of the facility itself but because it represents a major movement in health care and health sciences for the university.”

The tower (rendering pictured) will also include a separately owned hotel, as well as a restaurant. The 10-story hotel, operated by Hersha Hospitality Management (HHM), will hold 197 rooms and front Chestnut Street. A $1.5 million restaurant will occupy the ground floor of the building. The restaurant operator has yet to be announced.

City Council approved the building’s land development last month, following a lengthy planning process that cut down the height of the tower by about half, as well as some disagreement with the city over the building design. Still, at 265 feet, the building will become the fourth-tallest in Harrisburg.

“These kinds of impactful projects will create a migratory moment and a real reflection of the development of this university,” said Jay Shah, CEO of HHM.

Shah and Darr say the building will not only benefit students but will support economic and workforce development in Harrisburg.

According to Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Harrisburg has more than $1 billion worth of projects planned for the next few years, including the new, $195 million federal courthouse taking shape at N. 6th and Reily streets.

“It really speaks to the confidence which the university and other investors have that Harrisburg is going to continue to grow,” Papenfuse said. “We are emerging from a time of financial distress to a time of great possibility for the city.”

The HU building is expected to open in fall 2021.

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