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CPBJ Extra Blog

Office-to-housing conversions a good strategy? Maybe

By , - Last modified: September 5, 2012 at 8:59 AM

Four months ago, I wrote about the recent growth in student housing projects in Harrisburg.

Jason Scott

Developers and business leaders have praised the idea for the long-term benefits of bringing more young people into the downtown.

It's a win-win because it generally keeps properties on the tax rolls and the influx of residents — even temporary — bolsters consumer spending and creates ancillary development opportunities.

In a city where about half of the properties are tax exempt and cash flow has become a frequent question as officials continue to deal with fiscal recovery, keeping properties on the side of tax generation is key.

Stalled tax incentives would likely speed up the process and give Harrisburg more things to celebrate more often, but progress is being made nonetheless.

Developers like Dan Deitchman and GreenWorks Development, among others, are taking risks or partnering with schools of higher education to guarantee new living units, whether rental or sale, are out there for students and young professionals.

Redevelopment is not a new concept. It's not new to Harrisburg either.

The idea of converting old office and industrial spaces into residential use also has been around. It's suddenly on everyone's radar again.

I continue to hear that the removal of empty office space tightens business rentals and can have a positive impact on the downtown. They might be right.

Deitchman and others — Skynet Property Management is one — are making moves.

And I have heard from commercial agents that other downtown office buildings are changing hands. For what exactly, I'm not sure, but the safe bet right now seems to be either student housing or attractive condominium spaces for young professionals.

What do you think? Are you in the market for a downtown redevelopment or investment opportunity? Let me know.

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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