$3.5M state grant will help restore Harrisburg buildings

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A $3.5 million state grant will help a city-based property group restore blighted Midtown buildings.

Behind several dilapidated brick buildings, Governor Tom Wolf huffed-and-puffed about not blowing them in.

“We don’t want these buildings to be vacant,” he said.

The governor made the short trip to the 900 block of North Third Street to discuss funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. After a budget stalemate in 2015, RCAP funding was not released and delayed many projects around the state, including the Mulder Square project in Allison Hill.

Partners J. Alex Hartzler and David Butcher with WCI are recipients of the funding that went to acquisition and construction.

State Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin/Perry) praised WCI for continuing to invest in Harrisburg.

“WCI has led the way in this city’s revitalization, even before the financial crisis,” he said.

Hartzler said the project dubbed Boas Flats will cost $8 million overall. Four of the buildings will be transformed into residential and commercial office space.

Young investors Adam Brackbill and Adam Porter, who currently co-own Startup Harrisburg, will relocate the work-sharing space to ground floor of one apartment building. The state-of-the-art space will open in the next few weeks.

Wolf and Mayor Eric Papenfuse touted the guts of the two men to take on such risk.

“It’s all part of rebuilding the city’s tax base and making sure we have a sustainable long-term recovery plan for Harrisburg,” Papenfuse said.

The mayor also commended the state for being a “vital partner” in Harrisburg’s recovery.

Gov. Wolf addresses the media behind the Boas Flats project at a news conference with Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, J. Alex Hartzler, Adam Porter, and Sen. Rob Teplitz.
Gov. Wolf addresses the media behind the Boas Flats project at a news conference with Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, J. Alex Hartzler, Adam Porter, and Sen. Rob Teplitz.

In the past two years, Midtown has seen a quick renaissance with the emergence of the new businesses such as Millworks restaurant, brewery, biergarten, and art space, the Broad Street Market overhaul, Zeroday Brewery, Webpage FX growth, Next Level Performance, and the opening of the Susquehanna Art Museum.

A slew of restaurants also recently opened in Midtown, including Aangan Express, Note Bistro, Pastorante, The District, HMAC Kitchen, and Yellow Bird Café.

This is on top of Midtown institutions like the Midtown Cinema, Jackson House, Midtown Scholar, and Vietnamese Garden, among others.

Wolf said tackling big vacant buildings would only make those surrounding properties and businesses more valuable.

“The market has not done what it’s supposed to do to make sure places like Harrisburg, good, vital cities succeed,” he said.

The three other buildings are in worse shape and will take until next spring to complete, according to Hartzler. The Burg News will relocate its Uptown newsroom to an office space there as well.

Teplitz said more RCAP projects will come to the area, but revitalizing Third Street is a much-needed chapter in a never-ending novel.

“This is just one more step in that great story,” he said.

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