First home sells in Allison Hill revitalization project
Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to commemorate the first renovated home sold as part of a project designed to entice homeowners to the city's South Allison Hill neighborhood.
Known as the MulDer Square project, the $20 million revitalization effort kicked off last year. It represents a partnership between the city, Tri-County Housing Development Corp., Harrisburg Housing Authority, Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority and Brethren Housing.
The goal is to bring new affordable housing and retail space to a section of South Allison Hill that is connected to downtown by the Mulberry Street Bridge. MulDer is a name combining the two main streets running through the neighborhood — Mulberry and Derry.
The first home, sold for $70,000, is a three-story, four-bedroom home at 243 Hummel St. It is one of 11 properties acquired by the partnership, said Gary Lenker, executive director of Tri-County Housing.
Some of the MulDer Square construction will include renovating vacant homes in the 200 block of Hummel Street, as well as demolishing other blighted structures for new homes. For example, five burnt-out homes across the street from 243 Hummel were torn down last year to make room for new homes.
The overall project also will include construction of retail space and apartments, plus streetscape improvements, near the intersection of Mulberry and Derry streets. In 2016 the state awarded a $3 million grant to support the project.
Papenfuse said the effort is about encouraging homeowners and rebuilding the city's population. He believes the sale of renovated homes will raise property values in the neighborhood and spark new real estate deals. The average home value in the neighborhood is about $35,000.
The city's 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement should also help drive investment, he said. The homeowner at 243 Hummel will pay about $45 per year in city property taxes for the next 10 years because the improvements are covered under the tax abatement.
"I think others will follow," Papenfuse said.
As the partnership fixes up properties and people see other construction in MulDer Square, the mayor hopes it will have a ripple effect on surrounding areas in Allison Hill.
With 243 Hummel St. now sold, Lenker said the renovation focus will turn to neighboring homes at 235 and 245 Hummel.