Outside of the downtown, and in neighborhood areas considered catalytic in terms of potential for city-wide change, there are key sites that have significant redevelopment potential, namely the Roebling Complex and Mercer Hospital Complex.
Portions of the Roebling Complex have undergone redevelopment in the past, including the portion that contains Roebling Market. Currently, plans are underway to redevelop Block 3 of the Roebling Complex, also called the Wire Rope District. Further redevelopment of the Roebling Complex will produce a premier mixed-use residential, retail, and entertainment district with significant walking and biking connectivity to transit and downtown. At the same time, the Sun National Bank Center has not attracted associated spin-off development. Ensuring that these areas are successful will be key to revitalizing areas of Downtown, Lamberton, and Chambersburg.
Former Mercer Hospital Complex
In 2014, Capital Health sold the Mercer Hospital Complex to a private company Global Life Enterprises, which was looking to redevelop the 650,000- square-foot space into a health and wellness complex. The intent was for the campus to host a network of medical and healthcare offices that can supplement services offered at the hospitals in the area. As of 2016, the site remained vacant. To effectively drive the revitalization of the surrounding area, redevelopment of the Mercer Hospital Complex is critical. The City should work with the property owner to create a Mercer Hospital Complex Feasibility Study and Redevelopment Plan. This plan should take into consideration public/private partnerships and the housing options available in the vicinity and how such a redevelopment plan could support the City’s goals of creating strong residential neighborhoods that have a deep sense of community and history.
To begin with, the City must create Strategic Development Plans for the Mercer Hospital Complex and the Sun National Bank Center area. This must be coordinated with efforts to aggressively advertise development opportunities in the City and to connect developers with State development and employment incentives. At the same time, the City must implement changes to the City’s development application review process to promote efficiency, predictability, and transparency. This should include updates to the City’s zoning ordinance as well as a review and update of its redevelopment plans. Hiring additional City staff in both Economic Development and Planning Divisions may support these efforts.
In all of the large development sites, the City must focus on creating attractive streetscapes and public spaces that emphasize these places as choice locations for businesses and residents. As major development sites, they have the opportunity to be character-defining urban elements. As such, the City should be sure to develop design guidelines for new development that reinforces high-quality, urban-scale design.