Harrisburg University hopes to break ground in July on 17-story tower
After winning a green light from the city planning commission earlier this month, officials at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology are hoping to get city council approval next month on construction plans for the university's second academic tower in downtown Harrisburg.
University President Eric Darr said the goal is to start building the tower at the corner of Chestnut and South Third streets by late July and open it by summer 2021 as the school’s degree offerings expand into health sciences.
“We’re dangerously close now,” Darr said Friday.
The project, which began in 2017 as a 36-story vision with student housing and a public parking garage, will now include 17 floors and cost the university about $100 million. Darr said another $30 million to $35 million will be spent by a hospitality partner that will add a 197-room hotel and conference center with a restaurant inside the tower. The hotel partner has not been named.
The project has been designed with the expectation that a Marriott-branded hotel will occupy the site, though a final decision on the brand hasn’t been made.
Darr said the university and the hotelier would share space on 10 of the floors. The remaining seven floors would be used entirely by Harrisburg University.
The educational space in the tower is slated to accommodate at least 1,000 new students and a health science education center that would serve degree programs in nursing, pharmaceutical sciences and other allied health programs.
Darr also said the university will have classrooms and training space for advanced manufacturing and interactive media programs, the latter fueled by the esports boom at Harrisburg University.
City officials said council is expected to discuss the land development plan for the tower in mid-April, though the plan has not yet been placed on any agendas.
Harrisburg-based Reynolds Enterprises Inc. and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., based in Baltimore, were hired to support Butler County architect Alex Wing of Stantec on preconstruction plans for the building.
The school's current academic tower at 326 Market St. opened in 2009 with a price tag of $73 million. That building has 16 floors.