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State archives moving to Midtown Harrisburg

Building project expected to cost more than $20M

A sign depicts the state Department of General Services and Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission plans to erect a new building on about three acres along the 1600 block of North Sixth Street between Harris and Hamilton streets. - (Photo / Jason Scott)

The Pennsylvania State Archives is expected to relocate to Midtown Harrisburg from the downtown within the next three years, city officials said today.

The state Department of General Services and Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission have agreed to erect a new building on about three acres along the 1600 block of North Sixth Street between Harris and Hamilton streets, Mayor Eric Papenfuse announced.

Susquehanna Township-based Vartan Group Inc., which built the nearby 1500 Condominium, owns the long-vacant land at 1633 N. Sixth St. and has been buying most of the neighboring properties.

A short walk from the site of the future federal courthouse at Sixth and Reily streets, the archives building will take about a year to design, Papenfuse said. Construction on what could be a three- or four-story building should begin by the end of 2017 and will take about two years to complete.

The project is expected to cost more than $20 million.

The mayor is optimistic that the archives and courthouse projects will revive investment in Sixth and Seventh streets — the latter dubbed the northern gateway.

The courthouse site could get $29.5 million through a new funding plan submitted to Congress by the U.S. General Services Administration.

H. Ralph Vartan, CEO of the Vartan Group, called these projects “generational” and said new institutional construction in Midtown is “one piece to the puzzle” in helping the city grow. 

His father, the late John O. Vartan, began assembling land along the corridor more than 25 years ago with these type of uses in mind, he said.

“This is a big step in the direction of progress,” Vartan said. “New construction is what this corridor is about.”

The state archives also has partnered with the city to maintain Harrisburg’s archives at the site, Papenfuse said.

A neighborhood meeting to discuss the construction project will be held at 5 p.m. next Wednesday at the city fire station at 1820 N. Sixth St.

The future of the current archives building, which is part of the state Capitol complex, has not yet been determined. Papenfuse said it could be used as storage for the neighboring state museum.

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