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Carlisle redevelopment plan guidance, not a blueprint

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Carlisle residents last night received a look at the final, yet deliberately general, redevelopment plan for the borough's former industrial properties on its north side. And planners reminded them, the current suggestions are merely a guidance document to help the borough plan for the future.

“The plans that get built will not be the plans in the document,” said Sean Garrigan, a partner with Somerset-based planning consultants Stromberg/Garrigan & Associates Inc. “They will be informed by the document.”

Since the spring, Carlisle, Stromberg/Garrigan, property owners, and residents have been working through public sessions to develop a plan that would guide redevelopment of the former IAC/Masland and Tire & Wheel sites. The old factories have been torn down and landowners are cleaning up the sites. A third property owned by TE Connectivity Ltd. sits vacant.

Monday’s meeting unveiled the final recommendations from Stromberg/Garrigan, but Garrigan also reminded everyone that the specific redevelopment of each site will largely depend on what the property owners want to build there.

The recommendations from the plan are:

• Refine the urban mixed-use zoning to be consistent with the plan’s outlook, and to expand the design guidelines to promote cohesive yet eclectic construction consistent with the character of surround neighborhoods.

• Establish tax incremental financing to help pay for public asset parts of the redevelopment projects, such as work to stormwater systems and roads.

• Enhance North Hanover Street from the square to Penn Street to improve economic and social connectivity to redevelopment at the IAC/Masland sites. This could include public and private improvements to prevent redevelopment from siphoning business from downtown.

• Quantify the neighborhood traffic conditions with studies and planning for inevitable traffic increases from today’s baseline.

• Begin critical transportation improvements, including redesigning crucial intersections at North Hanover/Fairgrounds Avenue/Penn Street, North Hanover and Carlisle Spring Road; and reconstruction of east-west grid system by rebuilding B Street.

• Construct the first phases of Fairground Avenue greenway and stormwater management park.

The plan doesn’t estimate the economic impact or jobs that could be generated by the redevelopment, but no doubt it will add to the borough’s economy, Garrigan said.

“From the projections we used, it’s a pretty substantial increase in the tax base,” he said.

Realistically, it could be another three years before a significant number of buildings rise again from the former industrial sites, he said. It could be sooner, but that depends on how diligent the borough and property owners are about redevelopment.

The IAC/Masland site on Carlisle Spring Road is owned today by local car show promoters Carlisle Events. New York-based RE Invest Solutions owns the Tire & Wheel property on North College Street. There is about 50 acres between the two properties for redevelopment.

If Carlisle starts now on the low-hanging policy actions, and continues to communicate with property owners and the public, then it could jump-start the process, Garrigan said.

“You have to make sure all those parts move together, and to do that, you should start now,” he said.

Carlisle’s full urban redevelopment plan can be found here.

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