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Harrisburg firm Andculture buys Old Waterworks building

After trying to buy the Old Waterworks building in Harrisburg’s Riverfront Park three-and-a-half years ago, a technology design company based in the city has secured the historic property to grow its operations.

David Hickethier, CEO of Andculture, said he and his partners have acquired the roughly 22,000-square-foot building along the Susquehanna River.

The purchase price was not disclosed, but the property had been listed for $875,000 at the end of last year. The previous owner, Mann Realty Associates, filed for bankruptcy last year.

“We had our heart set on this space for a number of years,” said Hickethier, who plans to renovate the property over the course of this year. “The thing that really drew us was the history and use that it had in the city in the early years. We wanted a place with legacy and a history.”

Built in 1841 as a city pumping station, the North Front Street property has been on and off the market over the years. It has mostly been used as office space for more than 30 years.

Mann acquired it from the city in 2002 for $350,000, according to Dauphin County property records. Neiman Group, an advertising agency sold in 2013 to Boston-based Allen & Gerritsen, once called the building home, but it has sat mostly vacant in recent years.

“We know it’s a massive project, but we’ve been looking for something like this for a long time,” Hickethier said, also citing the benefit of 84 on-site parking spaces and the additional space to host networking and community events.

Once the space is renovated, Andculture, a company with 55 employees, will occupy about 12,000 square feet. The company’s accelerator program, Catamaran, would use about 3,000 square feet. Both currently operate in a 9,500-square-foot leased space at North Second and Locust streets.

But that space is maxed out and growth lies ahead, Hickethier said.

He said he expects Andculture could add 10 or 15 more employees this year, while Catamaran could expand to include an incubator to help companies with established products find markets. An accelerator, on the other hand, is a program designed to help entrepreneurs develop viable products.

“We knew we needed to make a move. Catamaran was definitely a catalyst,” he said.

That said, Hickethier expects the remaining space in the new building will be leased to other tenants. He’s hoping to attract other companies that complement Andculture in creative and tech abilities. Catamaran, which recently wrapped up a program for its first group of entrepreneurs, may help attract those tenants.

The next step will be hiring an architect and contractor, Hickethier said, hoping to make that selection over the next week. In addition to mechanical system upgrades and parking structure repairs, he is anticipating that much of the interior will get a makeover as part of the construction effort. Cost of the upgrades has not yet been finalized, he said. 

He is aiming for a year-end completion and move.

“We would love to be in there by the end of the year,” he said.

Ryan Murray of NAI CIR handled the transaction.

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