• Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation
  • Serving Cumberland County
  • Pennsylvania’s destination for business and leisure
Back to list

Work at IAC site kicks off in Carlisle

This article appeared on Cumberlink.com and The Sentinel on November 2, 2017.

By Zack Hoopes

With vertical building expected to start in early 2018, local business and government leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon at the former IAC/Masland site in Carlisle for an official groundbreaking on the mixed-use development plan.

Dozens of officials who have been involved in the public-private development partnership spoke at the site on Carlisle Springs Road, which is being prepped for the construction of a hotel, restaurant, retail and housing complex.

“A friend of mine, who is a developer, said this is going to be a long, painful process — and it was,” said Lance Miller of Carlisle Events, which purchased the property in 2010 shortly after the IAC/Masland factory was shuttered. “But we could not have pulled it off without support from all of you.”

At the time, Carlisle Events was interested mainly in the property’s parking, which the company depends on for its car shows at the Carlisle Fairgrounds, located directly to the northeast. The factory itself, which made automotive carpeting and upholstery, presented a serious challenge for redevelopment given the industrial contamination.

“Everyone was nervous about the property … but we didn’t really have a choice,” said Bill Miller, Carlisle Events’ founder. “We didn’t’ want to leave Carlisle, and we couldn’t lose the parking, so we bought it.”

In 2012, the vacant factory was severely damaged by a fire, forcing the Millers’ hand even further. Now, after five years of demolition, environmental remediation, engineering and finance work, the property’s future is looking much brighter — a matter of pride for many involved.

“In 2008, 2009 and 2010 we lost three of our major manufacturers,” said Carlisle borough councilman Perry Heath, who described the loss and rebirth of the manufacturing site as akin to “a cycle of grief” for the local economy.

“If anyone wants to write a case history on how a public-private partnership should occur, this is the perfect one,” Heath said.

Carlisle’s blue-collar employees “were and are the fiber of Carlisle,” said Mayor Tim Scott, and the borough hopes to do right by them in reinvigorating the former factory site.

The ability to rebuild the site came from Carlisle Events working with a number of public agencies to secure loans and grant funding to clean up the site — a cost that would otherwise scare developers away.

However, the site has now become a model for environmental remediation strategy, said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Several acres of the site will be devoted to public green space, and the project is now one of seven pilot properties in the state’s “Brownfields to Playfields” program, allowing millions of state and federal dollars to flow into the build-out.

Projects such as the IAC/Masland redevelopment have also been a major target for the Keystone Grant initiative, and part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s interest in seeing more open space in Pennsylvania’s downtowns, said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn.

“It’s great for me, as a Cumberland County resident, that our county seat is serving as a prime example for this type of work,” Adams said.

The reconstruction of the property is also dependent on a Tax Increment Financing agreement, commonly known as a TIF. This involves local governments borrowing against future property tax revenue increases — created by the increased value of the property post-development — to fund the infrastructure improvements necessary to get the project off the ground.

In the case of the IAC/Masland site, the TIF has leveraged over $12 million on a 20-year bond. Most of this funding is being used by the Borough of Carlisle to do water, sewer and road improvements to support the development, including a major reconfiguration of the intersection at Carlisle Springs Road and North Hanover Street and the extension of several cross streets, particularly B Street, over the site from east to west.

Including the TIF and all of the grant programs, roughly $25 million in public infrastructure funds have been secured for the area, Heath said.

The commitment by public agencies to do the necessary infrastructure improvements has allowed Carlisle Events to get early commitments from developers to actually build the structures in the plan, said Tom Richey, a developer who has been working with the Millers for the past three years.

“We’ve been able to pre-sell, before starting construction, most of what you see on this site plan,” Richey said, thanking the firms that have already come on board with the development.

These include Simraj Hospitality Management, a hotel group that operates several Midstate hotel franchises, and which will take over the Hilton Hotel that is planned to start construction in February or March, Richey said.

Carlisle Events also has commitments from Tri-Corner Communities to build out several residential parcels, Richey said, as well as an agreement from Alfredo Iannuzzi, current owner of Marcello’s Ristorante, to create a 6,000-square-foot dining establishment.

Local developers Mark and Allan Galbraith will be building the site’s much-anticipated “car condos” — three-story units with large ground floor garages able to hold four to six vehicles, with the intention of being marketed as second homes for die-hard car collectors who attend Carlisle Events’ shows and auctions.

“Surprisingly, there are a number of people who own houses in this area specifically for the car shows,” Bill Miller said.

But the site won’t just be for wealthy car aficionados, Miller said. The main focus of the design is to create a walkable commercial area for locals and tourists alike, and especially for those Carlisle residents who find jobs on the site.

“We want it to be a community where people can live and work,” Miller said.

“I can’t think of a project anywhere else in the state that’s been planned as appropriately as this,” said Scott Dunkelberger, deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. “The difference between plans that can pull off a project like this and those that can’t is local leadership.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email