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Downtown Hershey project on hold

A redevelopment project in downtown Hershey is on hold.

A redevelopment project taking shape on site of the former Hershey post office is on hold until the developers can “restructure financing” to resume construction.

Massimo Rizzotto, one of the partners on the Hershey Downtown Center project at 169 W. Chocolate Ave., said he and partner Jamie Pascotti are working with potential investors to raise more funding to cover improvements on the five-acre site.

He declined to discuss details that are adding to the cost and holding up the project, which is expected to bring more foot traffic to downtown Hershey.

“All improvements to phase two affect phase one,” he said. “In order to bring to life the downtown center Hershey wants, we are restructuring financing and continue to work with our tenants and new investors.”

Located next to the Hershey Story Museum, the former Post Office has been an integral part of downtown redevelopment efforts. The Downtown Hershey Association organized several new events last year using the site, including art shows and concerts, to start building a stronger sense of community.

The partners acquired the West Chocolate Avenue property in the summer of 2014 from the Hershey Trust Co. for $3.24 million.

The plan has been to renovate the existing 35,000-square-foot two-story limestone building and build two additional structures along the road frontage that could house a mix of retail shops, restaurants, personal service businesses and offices.

Appalachian Brewing Co. is one of the committed tenants on the project.

“Yes, we are in a holding pattern until they get things worked out,” said Artie Tafoya, an owner and director of operations at ABC. “We are still very committed to this project.”

Rizzotto said the project will continue to move forward to provide “what’s best for downtown Hershey.”

Township supervisors and DHA officials have said they are anxious to see construction continue and will do what they can to help.

“We are aware that construction has paused and look forward to this pivotal project restarting and ultimately contributing to our many downtown revitalization efforts,” said Susan Cort, a township supervisor and past chairperson of the DHA.

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