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New developer takes on stalled project in downtown HersheyConstruction could begin this summer on mixed-use Hershey Towne Square

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RVG Management & Development Co., a company known for developing grocery-anchored shopping centers, office buildings and residential communities across the Mid-Atlantic, bought the former Hershey post office property at 169 W. Chocolate Ave. last year after the previous owner failed to restructure financing to continue the nearly five-acre project.
RVG Management & Development Co., a company known for developing grocery-anchored shopping centers, office buildings and residential communities across the Mid-Atlantic, bought the former Hershey post office property at 169 W. Chocolate Ave. last year after the previous owner failed to restructure financing to continue the nearly five-acre project. - (Photo / )

A stalled redevelopment project in the heart of downtown Hershey may soon be back on under a new owner with a new vision for a mixed-use complex that should be a central hub and spark a wave of reinvestment in Chocolatetown.

Wormleysburg-based RVG Management & Development Co., a company known for developing grocery-anchored shopping centers, office buildings and residential communities across the Mid-Atlantic, bought the former Hershey post office property at 169 W. Chocolate Ave. last year after the previous owner failed to restructure financing to continue the nearly five-acre project.

RVG stepped in during the restructuring effort to negotiate a buyout of the property because it saw a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to create a central gathering place in Hershey, said Steve Dayton, RVG's senior vice president of real estate.

"We want to bring new life and activity to the downtown," he said.

The property changed hands in October for $3.8 million, according to Dauphin County deed records.

Construction on the post office building, part of what was dubbed the Hershey Downtown Center, stopped in early 2016. The plan was to renovate the existing two-story limestone building and then build two additional structures that could house a mix of shops, restaurants, offices and personal-service businesses.

But the post office portion was never finished and the other buildings never started.

RVG has renamed the project the Hershey Towne Square. The new plan, designed by Lancaster-based Tono Architects, still includes renovating the post office building, but for use as a multi-tenant office building. A new multi-level public parking garage would be built next to that building.

At the front of the property, two multi-tenant buildings would be constructed along Chocolate Avenue. One would be a three-story, 82,689-square-foot mixed-use retail and residential building with 32 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The second would be a 12,900-square-foot single-story retail building.

RVG believes its plan brings a modern aesthetic to the downtown that will blend with Hershey's industrial past.

"This is a significant investment in this parcel. We believe in the real estate and the community," Dayton said.

The new owners also believe this project will "raise everybody's game" and drive new investments along Chocolate Avenue.

"I think you will see reinvestment up and down the corridor," Dayton said.

Ed Fetter, also a senior vice president of real estate for RVG, said everything would be built at the same time and not in phases, as was originally planned for the site.

He hopes the project will garner necessary approvals from Derry Township over the coming months, so construction can get underway this summer. If that happens, he expects buildings would be delivered by the beginning of 2018 and tenant fit-out work would follow.

RVG hasn't begun leasing spaces, but Fetter said the goal is to attract national and regional retailers and restaurants. The developer is looking to bring some new brand names to the midstate, he said. The goal is five restaurants for the site, most with outdoor seating.

The estimated $28 million project could then open by the spring or summer of 2018.

The township's design advisory board, which reviews proposals and make recommendations of appropriateness for various construction and property improvement activities within downtown Hershey, will review the design at its next meeting on Feb. 27.

From there, the plan would need to go through the township's planning commission and board of supervisors.

RVG also will be seeking tax-increment financing, a public-private partnership tool that involves all local taxing bodies, to help pay for the cost of the parking garage. The project will add about 500 parking spaces in the downtown, most of those in the parking garage. They will be free for the public to use.

A parking garage is needed in order to maximize density on the site, officials said.

Access points on the site would be signalized intersections at Ridge and Linden roads.

Bennett Williams Commercial is handling the leasing of the site.

View renderings of Hershey Towne Square in the slideshow below.

(Photo / )
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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 jasons@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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H. Squartz February 21, 2017 3:25 pm

Seriously. Looks like these buildings could use some creative Hershey flare. The street lamps are one of the things that make downtown Hershey so unique. Everybody's always so ecstatic about how the street lamps are shaped like Hershey's Kisses. At least throw in some Hershey's product character sculptures, topiaries or something. Brick sidewalk inlays shaped like Hershey's Kisses? Some colorful flags or banners or murals or awnings or something with Hershey's logos or artwork on them? Maybe big staggered metal 3D letters spelling out "Hershey" or "Chocolatetown USA" placed in a garden or a park or a courtyard somewhere? C'mon! Hershey can do so much better than that! Don't skip out on the details! The place should look like Hershey threw up in here so there's no question you're in downtown Hershey as opposed to being anywhere else in the world.

JD February 15, 2017 11:06 pm

Oh no looks like any boxed buildings you see in any suburb....icky design
Why not put some shoe boxed homes up
All you need is some homeless people and that could be any city.
Good grief have some original ideas....look around anywhere USA

dunnhome February 15, 2017 9:18 pm

Great concepts as long as they do not steal monies dedicated towards children's public education to be redirected to fund the TIF program to fuel capitalism. Have the Hershey Trust fund the development after their cultural cleansing of our downtown. They are trying to suck off of millions from the school needed to provide quality education to pay for this downtown development. Why steal from kids to fund profits of developers? It is a maneuver that our Founder Milton Hershey would never have done.

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