Commercial property along Paxton Street in Swatara Township has been on the move, which could be a good sign for the local economy.
Earlier this month, a pair of Maryland developers — St. John Properties Inc. and Petrie Ross Ventures — announced their acquisition of the Harrisburg Mall with plans to revive it. The two collectively own or have developed more than 25 million square feet of commercial property in six states.
The mall has been a symbol of troubling financial conditions in recent years. Its previous owner — New York-based Feldman Lubert Adler Harrisburg LP — owed $52.5 million on the property in 2009 before ending up in foreclosure.
Construction was under way for a 30,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble bookstore before the company pulled out. Around the same time, a Panera Bread restaurant abandoned plans to move into the mall, and an arcade-themed sports bar was scrapped mid-build.
The mall was acquired for $9.5 million, according to Dauphin County property records. The deed was recorded June 7.
The unfinished sports bar is expected to be demolished in the coming weeks, and the new owners have said they will invest in updated signage, improving access and stronger marketing of the mall to attract more national retailers.
"The long-term plan is to fill the big-box (spaces)," said Jerry Wit, senior vice president of marketing for St. John Properties.
The owners are working on two scenarios of what to put in place of the half-finished eatery, Wit said.
Across the street from the mall, the Scottsdale Plaza shopping center this week was acquired as part of a $5 million deal that also included a nearby apartment complex and land.
The deal settled Monday and was announced Tuesday by Drew Bobincheck, an agent with East Pennsboro Township-based Landmark Commercial Realty Inc.
Scottsdale Commercial Partners LP is the listed buyer of the shopping center. Dan Deitchman, owner of Lower Allen Township-based Brickbox Enterprises Ltd., is the investor behind that limited partnership, according to state business records.
Deitchman has been very active in housing projects in Harrisburg.
He has developed the Residences on Market, a student housing project for Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Deitchman currently is adding a second student housing building — Market View Place — for the university, and plans are in the works for a third building in 2014, according to the university.
He also has partnered with Harrisburg-based GreenWorks Development on the redevelopment of the historic Furlow Building in Midtown Harrisburg for market-rate apartments and first-floor retail space. That project is under construction.
Deitchman also was behind the Riverview Manor housing project on North Front Street.
The developer also is planning a 50-unit condominium project at the Barto Building on North Third and State streets. The space would be converted from office use.
Bobincheck said the Scottsdale Plaza has about 10,000 square feet of vacant space.
"All of it will need heavy renovation," Bobincheck said, adding he expects that work to take place before the company markets the site.
The new owner declined to comment about additional investments in the properties.