Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Riviera Razed: City Demolishes Historic, Blighted Hotel

Workers today continued demolition at 1742 N. 6th, the former site of the Riviera Bar and Hotel.

Workers today continued demolition at 1742 N. 6th St., the former site of the Riviera Bar and Hotel.

The city continued demolition today on the Riviera Hotel, an abandoned bar and rooming house at the corner of 6th and Kelker that rapidly deteriorated after a 2010 fire and recent series of collapses.

Dave Patton, codes administrator for the city, said the demolition work was bid out to Swatara Township-based Arney Brothers, Inc., for $24,549.

Demolition began on Monday and will probably take a couple of weeks, he said.

Patton also said the owners of the Riviera, Marion and Diana Nicklow of Hershey, have agreed in court to a plan to pay back the city for demolition costs.

The demolition concludes a troubled run for the Riviera, a three-story yellow brick building with faded, blue-gray paint on the window trim and the first-floor façade.

County property records show that the Nicklows purchased the building in March 1999 for $80,000.

They filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, after defaulting on a business line of credit for the Riviera and a mortgage on a separate property, according to court records.

In June 2005, the Patriot-News reported that a man and a woman were found dead in a room there after another resident noticed a foul odor. Charles Kellar, then the city’s police chief, told the paper it appeared the woman had died weeks before the man.

More recently, Patton recalled discovering a homeless man living on the second floor, who appeared to have gained access via a fire escape. The building was condemned in May 2010 after a fire, Patton said.


A Google Earth satellite photo, dated Sept. 6, 2013, shows a gaping hole in the roof of the building, the sole standing structure on its side of the 1700-block of N. 6th Street. Most of the surrounding blocks, once home to rows of attached buildings, are also largely barren, emptied of their Victorian-era structures.

Patton, who said he sought bids for demolition when the north wall began to appear increasingly unsound, recalled witnessing the damage last summer after a further collapse of the roof into the basement.

“It looked like a meteor just came down through the roof,” he said.

The Nicklows have pled guilty to three property code citations so far, Patton said.

“It’s been a long journey with this structure and owner,” he later added, “but fortunately we are nearing the end.”

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