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CAEDC affiliate plans meeting over redevelopment of Lemoyne Middle School

This article appeared on Central Penn Business Journal website on May 17, 2017.

Jonathan Bowser wants to align future uses of the former Lemoyne Middle School property with the goals of the community around it.

So he’s offering residents in the Cumberland County borough a forum next week to voice their concerns about the school site’s potential redevelopment.

The Real Estate Collaborative LLC, an affiliate set up last year by the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., which Bowser runs, will hold a community outreach meeting at 7 p.m. on May 24 at Washington Heights Elementary School in Lemoyne to discuss future plans.

The collaborative, known as REC, was set up to help private developers break down barriers to redevelopment, including demolition and rezoning of underused, vacant and brownfield sites. To accelerate redevelopment, the collaborative is securing select sites in Cumberland County, such as the former middle school.

“To a certain extent, we’re being proactive,” Bowser said in March. “We’re the fastest-growing county in the state, but we want to retain that.”

In February, the West Shore School District accepted the REC’s offer to pay $450,000 for the middle school property. A mixed-use concept was floated at the time of the deal.

Bowser said that’s still the plan as a market feasibility study has begun to hone in on what exactly the site can support. CAEDC has been talking to investors who are interested in the site for a mix of retail, office and market-rate rental housing.

“We want to be inclusive and transparent with the residents of Lemoyne,” he said. “We understand this school has been around since the early 1900s and has a lot of symbolic meaning to the current and past residents of the borough of Lemoyne. We also know residents have concern of potential uses, traffic, density and aesthetics of the redevelopment of the site.”

The collaborative and potential partners are sensitive to those concerns, he said.

“Our intent is to work closely with the residents and borough on a project that is in the best interest of the community and also makes economic and financial sense for us,” he said. “We think we can achieve both of these objectives in this project.”

In other REC news

In Shippensburg, the REC has received approval to rezone the former Domestic Castings Co. property on North Queen Street to mixed-use from industrial. The collaborative next needs to submit a remediation report to the state for environmental contamination on the site and expects to close on the property this summer, Bowser said.

The goal is to build market-rate rental housing with a mix of commercial and office spaces.

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