Steelton unveils new tax incentives to entice development

Mayor calls LERTA a 'game changer' for borough's future revitalization

Chariot Urban Development LLC plans to build a 125,000-square-foot mixed-use Renaissance Row project on about five acres along the west side of Front Street from Trewick to Pine streets. - (Photo / Submitted)

A new tax incentive program designed to spur development in the Dauphin County borough of Steelton is now in effect, and it’s already benefiting two upcoming projects.

The borough recently passed a 10-year tax-abatement under the state’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act program, known as LERTA, and under a program known as the Improvement to Deteriorating Real Property Tax Exemption Act program, or IDRPTEA.

The incentives, which took effect July 1, apply to both new residential and commercial construction as well as improvements to existing residential and commercial properties.

Borough officials, including Mayor Maria Marcinko, call it a “bold and simple” program with no requirements on job creation or prevailing-wage requirements.

It could be a “game changer” in Steelton’s revitalization efforts to improve its housing stock and give businesses a new place to call home, she said. “Steelton is open for business.”

In conjunction with Dauphin County commissioners and the Steelton-Highspire School District, the borough held a news conference Thursday to highlight the new tax incentives. The event took place on the future site of a project known as Renaissance Row, across from the Steelton Borough Hall.

Chariot Urban Development LLC, part of Philadelphia-based Chariot Companies LLC, will build the 125,000-square-foot mixed-use Renaissance Row project on about five acres along the west side of Front Street from Trewick to Pine streets. It will include 80,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and 46 one- and two-bedroom apartments in three three-story buildings.

John Henry Jr., Chariot’s chairman and CEO, said he hopes to have land development plans approved this fall. Construction would take about a year to complete, he said, with Pittsburgh-based PJ Dick overseeing the work.

Henry, a Pennsylvania native who developed the Carlisle Crossing shopping center in South Middleton Township, said the area is “like home” to him and he wants to be part of revitalizing Steelton. He’s also looking at other redevelopment opportunities in the Harrisburg area.

In addition to helping Renaissance Row get off the ground, the new incentive also will benefit a long-planned townhouse project on Adams Street, just off Front Street, that will feature 12 affordable homes. Tri-County Housing Development Corp. is developing the townhouse units, which are expected to break ground later this year and should be open next year.

The townhouses will be built for as much as $135,000 per home, but will be sold for about $95,000 to $100,000. County commissioners approved subsidizing the costs by using almost $200,000 in federal housing funds and $125,000 in gaming grants.

Commissioner George Hartwick III, a former Steelton mayor, called it a great day for Steelton as the steel town begins to “redefine itself.” He believes the tax abatement program will have a ripple effect once the two projects get underway.

Borough Manager Doug Brown said the current focus is the two announced projects, but the borough is open to new proposals. The county’s economic development team plans to work with the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp. to market the new program and attract new investors.

How it works in Steelton

The Steelton tax abatements will vary depending on where building projects occur in the borough.

A full 100 percent abatement for 10 years will apply to projects in the commercial town-center district, which encompasses both sides of Front Street between Conestoga Streets to Strawberry Alley, plus the 100 block of Adams Street.

Projects elsewhere in the borough will enjoy a 100 percent abatement for the first five years. The abatement then will decrease by 20 percent each year for the next four years. So, for example, there will be an 80 percent abatement in the sixth year and 20 percent in the ninth year. Full taxes are paid in the tenth year.

The tax incentives do not make a property tax free. The abatements only apply to new real estate taxes that result from increased property value because of the new construction on or renovations to existing property.

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