CARLISLE — In a matter of years, the landscape of a key area in Carlisle may look vastly different, as the borough’s redevelopment plan progresses forward. Yet, with an open timeline and the uncertainty of what’s to eventually enter those sites, the push forward is brimming with questions.
Borough officials have all the time they need to secure the necessary funding and work with the community to ensure that what is eventually developed meets the needs of both those living here and the market demands.
The Carlisle Urban Redevelopment Plan is currently designed to upgrade state and local streets, improve two failing intersections and restore a grid system based upon environmental and economic efficiency which would better connect area hubs and increase walkability.
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Borough officials also hope CURP would ultimately result in over 3,000 permanent new jobs, over 700,000 square feet of combined new residential and commercial property and $49 million in tax increment over 20 years.
CURP’s genesis was Dec. 13, 2012, when the Carlisle Borough Council approved a contract with Somerset, Pennsylvania-based landscape design company Stromberg Garrigan and Associates Inc. On Oct. 3 of the very next year, the council accepted the plan.
Since then, the borough has held several “well-attended” open forums to garner public interest and opinion with residents — the most recent of which was held May 14, 2014. According to the borough’s website, the focuses of the meetings were to discuss CURP’s effectiveness in regard to stormwater and transportation, as well as the potential layout of affected streets.
“What we started with were blank slates. The community was involved from the beginning to end of the conceptual plan, and there are things that are concrete and things are not so much concrete, and that’s the way it is with any land development plan,” said Borough Manager Matthew Candland.
While the plan has taken shape since its inception, much of the outcome rests on the shoulders of two local private landowners and their respectable former industrial sites — both of which are nearly ripe and ready to play vital roles in both the progression and end-goal for the plan.
Those two sites are the former Lear/IAC factory site and former Carlisle Tire & Wheel plant, both located on the northern outskirts of downtown Carlisle.
“The property owners are intimately involved in the process,” Candland said. “So they contribute to the discussion. They’re invested and committed to the project as much as anyone else.
Currently, the former Lear/IAC factory brownfield is in the final stages of demolition, with a projected date of completion sometime in October, according to Mike Garland, media specialist for Carlisle Events, the event-planning company that owns the property.
“Post-demolition, next step is to continue to work with the borough on rebuilding the infrastructure of roads and utilities,” he said. “The major goal of the site is to fully develop it with mixed uses that complement the borough of Carlisle and return the site to a prosperous neighborhood.”
With mixed-use variances in place, Carlisle Events is going to look to pursue tenants which could include a hotel, restaurants, residential housing and commercial offices.
Garland said in an email that Carlisle Events is “beginning the process of reaching out to potential tenants” to invest in their site.
As of now, Carlisle Events is working with real estate professionals in gauging the interests of possible tenants and is “pleased” with what it has heard in response. However, a set date for a post-demolition and cleanup move-in by a potential client is not known at this time.
“Carlisle Events has an excellent relationship with the borough of Carlisle in a classic public/private partnership that is enabling the redevelopment of this brown-field site,” Garland said.
And while the borough may relish a hotel — and likely Carlisle Events would as well — and amid the seemingly pleasant relationship the two entities have struck, the decision on what ultimately is constructed at the brownfield lies with Carlisle Events.
The same goes for the former Carlisle Tire &Wheel site.
Tire & Wheel
Thomas Lobasso, managing director of site owner RE Invest Solutions, echoed Garland’s statements on working with the borough and developing a close relationship. Yet as with any development, for a rapport to be built between the community and officials presiding over the future of such sites, such support is almost a necessity.
“We spoke at great lengths with the community, borough and the county to make sure that eventually a product will be built there that is acceptable and meets the requirements of the urban redevelopment plan,” Lobasso said.
At present the site is “pad ready,” meaning it’s ready for development, but Lobasso said officials are only “entertaining offers from interested developers and investors.”
“We’ve done all the demolition, decontamination, environmental field work, now we’re working on reporting and the paperwork to submit to the state,” he said. “We want to develop or sell to an entity that is going to work in the spirit of that development.
“We’re going beyond that too: working with (the) borough and county in applying for grant funding from state and federal level to entice developers to redevelop our site, and that’s a joint effort.”
So far this year, the borough has been awarded a $400,000 EPA Assessment Grant to assess land necessary to implement the CURP on May 28. In July, the redevelopment Authority of Cumberland County was awarded $95,000 to begin designing the Carlisle Urban Linear Stormwater Park, which is essential for development to occur at the Lear site and will provide recreational amenity to residents.
“Development takes time. You’ve got infrastructure costs, site development costs, and you have to identify funding, a lot of that isn’t going to happen overnight, but I think it’d be totally speculative for me to guess,” Candland responded when asked about a timeline projection for the completion of the project. “Will that happen tomorrow? I don’t know. Will it happen 10 years from now? I don’t know.”
The only thing that is certain at this point is that borough officials have developed a plan that seems to further enhance Carlisle while also inviting the prospect of added residential and commercial real estate, as well as additional jobs.