Ever since Adam Meinstein purchased Harrisburg’s old central post office in 2011, there hasn’t been much good news for him in the immediate neighborhood.
Businesses have come and gone (mostly gone) east of the underpass along Market Street, and several large, old buildings have remained empty and increasingly blighted.
His first real glimmer of hope arrived today thanks to PennDOT, which unveiled conceptual designs that included a flood-controlled Paxton Creek, a beautifully redesigned and landscaped Market Street and the possible relocation of the bus transfer station to the area.
“When I acquired the property, these are the things I was hoping for over the long term to see,” he said.
PennDOT shared the concepts with the public at the transportation center, the result of a three-month process that began with “Visioning Week” in September, when members of the public weighed in on what types of transit-oriented development they’d like to see in the rundown area just east of the station.
Angela Watson, PennDOT’s director of the Office of Multimodal Planning, explained that the concepts unveiled today were of three types: for the transportation center itself, for Paxton Creek and for Market Street.
The transportation center stands first in line for improvements, with $15 million already pledged to continue a years-long renewal of the station. The next phase, which will take place next year, will rehabilitate much of the interior, with updated design work followed shortly afterwards by the actual renovation work, she said.
An effort to control Paxton Creek is also underway, with a study to identify ways to lessen the flood risk due for completion in April. Flood mitigation is considered critical if the area is to be revitalized.
The other concepts involved improvements along Market Street. One concept showed a redesigned and vastly improved streetscape. Other concepts illustrated the possible relocation of the city’s bus transfer station to either the former post office or, across the street, to the site of the old Patriot-News building. Funding is not yet in place for this work.
Meinstein said that he appreciated the proposals for the future use of his property, which currently includes the vast Transitpark parking lot. So far, private businesses have not followed his lead by investing in the area, but he hopes that initiatives like this one will help make the area more attractive for companies and development.
“Now, we’ll have to see where it leads in terms of timing and future steps,” he said.
To learn more about PennDOT’s vision for the area around the Harrisburg Transportation Center, visit http://www.planthekeystone.com/Harrisburg.html.
Author: Lawrance Binda