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Business owners take high-rise-development plan in stride

Some people saw it coming. Others didn’t.

Some people saw it coming. Others didn’t.

Either way, business owners between 200-212 N. Second St. in Harrisburg will have to pack up if city officials approve plans for an 18-story office, parking and retail building at that location.

Four businesses would be affected: Cobalt Hair Salon, 2nd Street Psychic, Chilly Willy’s ice cream parlor and the Tom Sawyer Diner. The owners are taking the news in stride. Most will relocate, but not all will stay in Harrisburg.

“We have a significant amount of land on the West Shore on the Carlisle Pike,” said Ron Kamionka, who owns the diner and Chilly Willy’s. “We have 22 acres out there.”

Kamionka may place the diner next to the West Shore Hardware Bar, which he owns in Hampden Township. A decision wasn’t final, but his first thought was to load the eatery onto a flatbed truck, take it across the Susquehanna River and set it up next to the bar.

The diner rolled into Harrisburg from Allentown on the back of a flatbed in December 2005. Kamionka renovated the time-worn diner and surrounded it with an entertainment complex, replete with a stage, outdoor dining and bar. It opened last year in May.

Chilly Willy’s, which Kamionka opened this year next to the diner, will be abandoned, he said. The ice-cream parlor was an opportunity he pursued simply because space was available next to the diner, he said.

Kamionka said the news didn’t upset him. He was made aware of the potential for the highest and best use for the site when he entered into a lease agreement.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kamionka said of the developer’s plan. “We knew it was for the short term.”

Plans for the project have yet to be submitted to the city. The developer is 200 North Second Street Associates of Harrisburg. Andrew Giorgione, a partner with the group, did not look at lease agreements, and said he could not say when business owners would have to relocate. He said the group would like to break ground on the high-rise by early 2008.

That is fine with Zsuzanna Gal. Gal owns Cobalt Hair Salon and the adjacent Zsuzanna’s Hair Salon and Day Spa, which is across the street from Cobalt.

The U.S. General Services Administration plans to build a towering courthouse downtown, and because another 18-story building is going up across the street from Zsuzanna’s, Gal expects construction to disrupt traffic flow along North Second Street. She plans to move Zsuzanna’s out of the city.

Zsuzanna’s will open at another location in several weeks. She believes customers will have a hard time getting to her business when construction begins on both projects.

Gal will not disclose Zsuzanna’s new location but said she may move it to Route 22, and it will have a Harrisburg mailing address.

Plans for Cobalt are not final. She could move it to the suburbs when she is forced to go, but she said she intends to find another spot for the salon in the city. The midtown Harrisburg resident said she may even open a smaller version of Zsuzanna’s in midtown and keep the original Zsuzanna’s at its new location on Route 22.

“I am ready. I am thinking ahead,” Gal said. “I want to keep clientele within walking distance of Cobalt in the city.”

Psychic Angie Tom, who owns 2nd Street Psychic, was in Europe and could not be reached. A psychic who works for Tom said she did not see this coming and could not say what Tom would do in the future.

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