STEELTON, Pa. (WHTM) – Ten years ago, Steelton announced plans to get rid of eyesores on Front Street. But nothing has happened until now, and people who live in the area will tell you it’s about time.
“It was an eyesore because of the closed buildings, and when people come into Steelton and look on the right side, they saw all these empty buildings,” Steelton resident Robert Canidate said. “It was kind of disgusting, really.”
Borough manager Doug Brown says there isn’t one simple reason for the 10-year wait, but the 2008 financial crisis played a big role in stopping the flow of grant money.
“There’s a lot more that goes into it than just the buildings coming down,” he said.
Demolition will be finished by mid-June, with hopes of residential, retail, and office buildings eventually going up in that space. The goal is a more walkable community, a broader tax base, and an economic boost.
“We’re a steel town and we have a very proud history. However, we do have to change with the times and we do have to look forward,” Brown said. “Frankly, we can’t afford to live in the past. We need to start looking at new and innovative ways to develop the downtown area so Steelton can be around another 150 years.”
It’s a project that goes beyond borough lines.
“Any positive change, especially financially and economic development change, is not only for Steelton but is part of the influence on the whole community,” Canidate said.
And that sense of community could revitalize the spirit of Steelton.
“If you can invest and stay in your own community, you’re going to have a lot of pride in where you live,” Canidate said. “If we can keep the generations here rather than having them leave, you’ll see Steelton change.”
Brown said in the time between the end of demolition and the beginning of new buildings, the plan is to make the area an attractive green space for the community to enjoy.