Cumberland County’s redevelopment cooperative is likely looking at a full-scale demolition of the abandoned Lemoyne Middle School, once the property is closed on later this year.
“We’re probably looking at full-scale demolition. Retrofitting just wouldn’t make sense,” said Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation and its affiliated group, the Real Estate Collaborative.
The West Shore School District signed a letter of intent last week for a $450,000 sale of the property, located on Market and 7th Streets.
The REC will purchase the property using its investment pool of CAEDC and private funds. CAEDC is a county-owned entity that receives public funding through the county’s hotel tax.
The ultimate goal, Bowser said, would be for the REC to design a community revitalization project for the site, which would be sold to private developer who would put forward the funds for actual construction.
“We have two or three very strong, active developers who we’re talking to about a partnership,” Bowser said.
The unused school is a prime location for higher-end residential construction, given its proximity to the Market Street Bridge, which has sidewalks across its span.
“You can walk from the site to downtown Harrisburg, and have safe sidewalks the whole way,” Bowser said. “It’s a site that’s pretty attractive to professionals, and the office and retail space potential would also be huge.”
The REC will need to seek re-zoning of the site, however, given that its current land use regulations do not allow for enough density.
“The current zoning would make it economically infeasible,” Bowser said. “Current zoning is only four units per residential building, which is too low to make it work.”
The site could comfortably fit four to five buildings of 16 housing units each, plus ground-floor commercial space, Bowser estimated.
The Lemoyne Middle School project was one of the sites CAEDC had concentrated on last year when the creation of the REC was first pitched. Two other sites – the Carlisle United Methodist Church and the former Domestic Castings in Shippensburg – are also slated to be bought by the REC and have similar multi-use redevelopments installed.