Two long-abandoned industrial buildings have a new lease on life, as a Harrisburg developer plans to convert them to office and residential spaces.
Matt Long, owner of Harrisburg Commercial Interiors, said that he and his business partners have begun interior demolition work on 28 and 38 N. Cameron St., two derelict buildings near Appalachian Brewing Co.
“Our main motivation is that we wanted to save these buildings,” he said. “No one else wanted to touch them.”
The ownership group, Cameron Street LP, bought the two buildings in mid-August for $25,000 from the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority.
Under their plan, the smaller building at 28 N. Cameron St. will become the new offices for Harrisburg Commercial Interiors, while the larger building at 38 N. Cameron will become a five-unit apartment building.
Originally, the century-old buildings housed automobile-related businesses—a Motormart used car dealership and Duco Co. auto refinishers, before being gobbled up by Keystone Building Products, which occupied much of that block for decades.
In 1990, after Keystone left, the city took possession of the abandoned properties, and then-Mayor Steve Reed touted a federally backed retail complex called Paxton Commons, which was never built. At one point, Appalachian Brewing Co. also considered the site for expansion.
In 2015, the city turned the land over to the redevelopment authority, but still nothing happened, with the buildings occupied by squatters.
Long said that his company already has begun the interior demolition and cleanup of the buildings, which were choked with trash.
He expects work on the smaller, 7,000-square-foot building to be finished by the end of this year, which will enable his company to move into the space. The larger, 19,200-square foot apartment building next door will mostly be a 2021 project, he said.
Long said that other potential buyers and developers over the years were deterred by two factors. First, the land sits in the 100-year flood plain right by Paxton Creek, and, secondly, the cost of demolishing the buildings and performing site remediation was prohibitive.
Long said that he’s able to get around these issues by re-using the buildings’ existing industrial exteriors and, for the apartment building, occupying only the second floor, with parking on the first floor.
The five industrial-style apartments will be large—four two-bedroom units and one one-bedroom unit, ranging from 1,400 square feet to nearly 1,700 square feet.
Long conceded that the location isn’t as desirable as some other parts of the city, but said that the units will be priced accordingly.
“Many other cities have taken industrial centers and cleaned them up and made them marketable residences,” he said. “That’s what we plan to do here.”
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