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$50M to $100M development planned near Messiah College

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The Oakwood Hills project will develop three tracts of land totaling about 100 acres.
The Oakwood Hills project will develop three tracts of land totaling about 100 acres. - (Photo / )

Rider Musser Development LLC announced today that it plans to develop three tracts of land totaling about 100 acres between West Lisburn, Mill and Quail Hollow Roads in Upper Allen Township near Messiah College.

The project, dubbed "Oakwood Hills," includes residential and commercial properties and will generate a significant source of tax revenue and create hundreds of jobs for the township while providing quality housing options and conveniences, the company said.

Incorporated in May 2014, Rider Musser Development LLC, was initiated and supported with starting capital by the Messiah College Board of Trustees.

According to a news release, Messiah and Rider Musser will uphold an “arm’s length” relationship with all day-to-day operations and decision-making conducted by Rider Musser Development. The legally, functionally separate and independent corporation will maintain ongoing communication and annual reporting to the college, it says.

Studies and assessments of the most financially viable options for this investment property determined the timing and economic climate was appropriate to move forward with the development of the property, according to the entities.

The entire project will be constructed in several phases and is expected to cost $50 to $100 million and take 15 to 20 years to complete.

Plans for the project will be formally presented to the Upper Allen Township Board of Commissioners on Aug. 20, the entities said. The master plan currently features 312 garden-style apartments, 44 townhomes, a club house for residents with swimming and exercise areas, a hotel conference center, restaurants, a bank, a convenience store and professional offices.

"Designed with significant consideration for the residents of Grantham, the development will include jogging, hiking, walking and biking trails that will be open to the general public, as well as a park-like setting where the site’s natural beauty can be enjoyed," the release says.

“Beyond generating jobs and tax revenue, it’s important for us to ensure that Oakwood Hills is a valuable asset to the community including the faculty and students of nearby Messiah College,” said Victoria Lindstrom, president of Dillsburg firm Suasion, which has been retained to handle community relations for the project.

According to the news release, the first phase of Oakwood Hills will feature 48 garden-style apartment homes in two buildings. Groundbreaking is planned for mid-year 2015, with completion of the first phase in approximately 12 to 18 months.

All residential options "will be marketed to those who desire upscale, maintenance-free and village-like living," the release says. Rider Musser has held private community engagement sessions for adjacent neighbors and plans another session for residents of Upper Allen Township living close to the site. It invites neighbors to visit www.RiderMusser.com to read a newsletter or submit questions and comments.

“This is not a unique approach to securing the financial health and vitality of colleges,” said Eunice Steinbrecher, chair of the board of Rider Musser. “Public and private colleges and universities are considering alternative (non-tuition and non-market) business ventures and investment opportunities in a quickly changing higher education environment. In fact, development projects in various areas of the country, including one in Shippensburg, Pa., can be linked to respective area collegiate institutions."

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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N August 14, 2014 10:01 am

The Messiah Board has enough money to fund a suburban swimming pool/commercial complex but not enough to sustain the 45+ years old Philadelphia Campus for students to get involved in issues of urban social justice and change?

vince phillips August 13, 2014 4:36 pm

With respect to Messiah developing a fresh sort of capital, I guess I can't fault them too much. It's just that so much land has been developed in our area that I wonder when it's time to say when, particularly given that this area is one of the few left unspoiled. If the township approves of this development project, maybe one of the conditions should be to name it "Crowded Hills" instead of "Oakwood Hills" because that's where this area seems to be going.

c. witmer August 12, 2014 12:30 pm

I love the way the developer is 'selling' this as a benefit as "revenue and create hundreds of jobs for the township while providing quality housing options and conveniences." Explain to me how there is a housing shortage to begin with? Most of the jobs will be temporary as they are construction related. The local impact due to the demand for municipal and school services, especially from the residential impact will more than offset any "imagined" tax benefit created by the project. Can't even begin to address the problem that will be created due to the added highway congestion.

This is more sprawl nobody needs or wants. Classic example of lousy township planning. Any development must be good development, huh?

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