Growing synergy in downtown Harrisburg (and beyond)
As slow as the recovery process has been for debt-ridden Harrisburg — of course, progress is in the eye of the beholder — it is surprising how much development is occurring in the city.
Now, I’m not suggesting there is a lot of new construction going on. However, the city has seen its share of ribbon-cutting events and project announcements this year between new residential and mixed-use office buildings.
Veteran developers have not lost faith nor have they shed their shared sense of long-term optimism that the city’s best days are ahead of it.
On top of that, many downtown structures have been revamped to give way to new dining and entertainment concepts, as well as some student housing.
National and local franchise restaurants also have taken a chance on the city, while mom-and-pop establishments continue to pop up and breathe new life in what appears to be a slowly resurging Harrisburg.
Private-sector visionaries still speak of projects on the drawing board and hope for a new tax-abatement ordinance as well as other financing tools needed to help level the playing field for development.
With much of our time spent focusing on massive debt tied to a troubled incinerator and annual deficits that have yet to be resolved, it’s easy to overlook small success stories on Second, Third, Market and Front streets, into Midtown and beyond.
People with ideas continue to take risks and invest in their dreams.
And those dreams — new eateries, retail shops, arts and entertainment venues — keep people excited about living in the city. They also help attract new residents and entice outside investors to take chances that fill in other market gaps or create competition.
I don’t live in the city, but I’m starting to see why people do.
Yes, there still are a ton of neighborhood holes that could use a fresh start. But, based on what I’ve seen this year in the city, especially with the downtown business growth and new residential opportunities, it’s hard not to picture continued growth.
For more on the continued evolution of downtown Harrisburg, check out my story in this week’s print edition.