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Harrisburg projects snag $4 million more in state redevelopment grants

The governor’s office on Friday agreed to pour $4 million in state redevelopment grants into Harrisburg, with the city itself winning the lion’s share for a project to transform an area in Allison Hill.

The city won $3 million for the “Mulder Square” project to improve a blighted neighborhood at the end of the Mulberry Street Bridge that extends to 13th Street. The original project was pitched at $6 million and included streetscape improvements, the creation of commercial retail space, the destruction of blighted properties and the construction of 50 affordable, high-quality apartments.

City officials were working Friday to figure out ways to scale back the project to stay within the $3 million budget. City officials have previously touted the project as a way to spread economic development beyond the areas where private investors typically invest: downtown and midtown.

A redevelopment project at Strawberry Square also won $1 million from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to renovate the complex downtown with new office and residential units that are already underway. Harristown Developers had originally requested $2.75 million for the project.

The grants announced Friday will add to $3.5 million that was awarded last month to a WCI Partners project on North Third Street in Harrisburg, bringing the RACP grant total for city projects this year to $10.5 million.

The plan by WCI was to renovate four blighted properties along Third between Boas and Union streets to include the former Ronald Brown Charter School building at 922 N. Third. That project had also begun by the time Gov. Wolf announced the grant.

The awards from the governor’s office on Friday were announced by Sen. Rob Teplitz, who cited the grants as among six development and transportation projects for which he had “strongly advocated.”

A news release by Teplitz also cited a RACP redevelopment grant of $2 million in Perry County for onsite improvements at the proposed Buffalo Crossing Business Park in Howe Township, which includes the roadway network, storm water facilities, water line extension, sanitary sewer, and traffic signals.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget. The program previously sponsored the city’s National Civil War Museum, the Susquehanna Art Museum and renovations of a historic building into the midtown HACC building, among other projects.

Grant-winners get reimbursed for expenses after work is completed. Applicants are typically required to provide matching money. Detailed documentation must be submitted for reimbursement, said Jeffrey Sheridan, spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf.

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