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Strawberry Square buzzing with new tenants, including state workers in former Verizon Tower

Strawberry Square in downtown Harrisburg is seeing an influx of new tenants. - (Photo / File)

Fall is proving to be a busy season in and around Strawberry Square, at least if you’re Harristown Enterprises Inc.

Nearly 500 of at least 900 state employees have already moved into the newly renovated Commonwealth Tower, formerly the Verizon Tower on Walnut Street, said Brad Jones, Harristown’s president and CEO.

The remainder of the employees from the Department of Human Services will take up residence by March 2016 as Verizon exits.

Last fall, the state Department of General Services agreed to a 17-year lease with Harristown for the tower. Silver Spring Township-based R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc. is doing the renovation work, which cost about $3.5 million, according to Jones.

Also moving in are Lancaster-based RGS Associates Inc., a civil engineering and land planning firm, and Sellers Dorsey, a national health care consulting firm from Philadelphia.

RGS will occupy about 2,500 square feet by December, while Sellers Dorsey plans to move into 5,000 square feet, Jones said. It is the third office in Central Pennsylvania for RGS, which will have four initial employees in Harrisburg. Sellers expects to staff about 12 initially.

On the retail side, Harrisburg-based Little Amps Coffee Roasters will open a kiosk space in the square in early November. Verizon Wireless recently opened alongside the atrium.

Harristown itself has relocated its offices to the Lerner Tower in the square to make room for the Flats at Strawberry Square, a  22-unit apartment project that will convert office space to residential use at Third and Market streets.

Work on the apartments will kick off in November.

Harristown also has another 30 apartments and other commercial spaces going in at 18-22 S. Third St., the building that houses El Sol, and at 19-27 S. Third St., a section of row buildings. 

Those projects are being marketed as Fifteen @ Twenty-Two, or F@TT, and SoMa on Third. A co-working space is included in the latter at 21 S. Third St.

Those projects also will get underway in November, Jones said. All three are slated for completion in May or June 2016.

About $30 million is being invested in Strawberry Square and downtown Harrisburg between the various projects, which also includes several energy-efficiency projects.

Growing downtown retail and other amenities is an ongoing goal, but Jones is hoping the mixed-use projects will drive that effort.

“We have a nice daytime population here,” he said. “We’re trying to make this an 18-hour city.”

Right now, Harrisburg is more of a 12-hour city. Jones said he believes it can get there over the next five or 10 years, but it will take synergy between residential and commercial investments.

“The whole strategy for the city is to keep and grow,” he said. “We’re in an era of mostly small projects. Each small project helps motivate the next small project.”

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