Unfinished Harrisburg eyesore may become diamond in the rough

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Who hasn't driven past that big, ugly building near Cameron and Herr Streets in Harrisburg and wondered – what's the deal? A failed nightmare has become someone's dream. 

Clouded by charges of fraud and unpaid work, the Capitol View Commerce Center has sat empty and unfinished since contractors walked off the job in spring 2008. Recently, the property has become a pet project for one persistent Harrisburg police officer.

While driving down Cameron St. about three years ago, Jennie Jenkins looked out the window and saw the massive industrial eyesore and thought out loud, “man, wouldn't that be awesome if we could put the PAL in there.”

Jenkins, the President of Harrisburg's Police Athletic League envisioned an opportunity to improve Harrisburg youth with a new home. What began as a small idea has turned into a budding reality.

Renderings have been done to show PAL would revamp the back building of the 10 acre property and construct a multi-level athletic complex that boasts a dance studio, weight room, media room, sound room, game room, and basically any type of education and inspirational room geared towards helping Harrisburg city youth stay away from a life of crime.

“Seldom, a child will go from being a good child to robbing someone…there's always an in between,” said Jenkins.

The veteran officer explained the importance of teaching kids and teens good values at a young age. So, she is dreaming big despite understanding real hurdles are sure to come.

“It's good to have a dream and want to have something…but, you have to be able to pay for it,” said Jenkins.

As it stands now, the plan is to raise enough money to retrofit the interior and then lease the offices in the front part of the complex. Jenkins said the lease money would give PAL's office financial sustainability.

At this time, Jenkins did not want to disclose information on who is behind the donation or the target figure she hopes to raise, but said everything seems to be on schedule to break ground in late 2014.

While many do wonder about that building's future – many tell Jenkins her idea will never work. Whatever you do – don't tell her to forget about it.

“I never forgot about it,” said Jenkins. “And, the person that is donating the building came to me. I never went after them, so, I think this is meant to be.”

Donations are being accepted at: http://www.harrisburgpal.org/.

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