‘You need that first inviting structure’: Dauphin County begins process to redevelop blighted commercial properties

By: Christen Alexandersen

Published: April 12, 2017

Dozens of vacant commercial and industrial properties in Dauphin County may be given new life as part of a redevelopment program to transform blighted properties into prized community assets.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Dauphin County a $400,000 grant to conduct dozens of environmental assessments on vacant properties within the next three years. The assessments will serve as a starting gun for developers interested in revitalizing downtrodden properties around the county.

Old factories, vacant gas stations, abandoned buildings and dilapidated shopping centers are among the many types of properties that could be redeveloped as part of this process.

Raze them? Rebuild them? Possible solutions contain so many drawbacks when it comes to Harrisburg’s abandoned buildings.

Commissioner Mike Pries said it often just takes one renovated property to spark redevelopment of an area. One new shopping center or a renovated building brings more people to an area. Which brings jobs and economic development for business owners and residents, he said.

“You need that first inviting structure,” Pries said. “You need those individuals to come in, develop something and take a chance and then you see the growth that comes with it.”

Dauphin County Community and Economic Development Director George Connor said the grant money will fund between 25 and 30 environmental assessments. Some sites may require noninvasive inspections while others would require more labor intensive assessments.

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