Harrisburg Area Community College President John Sygielski told PennLive on Thursday that the sale of the Lebanon campus “will soon be finalized.”
In October, Sygielski had announced that due to financial troubles faced by the system, both sale and lease of the 735 Cumberland St. building were options on the table.
This week’s statement represented a clarification of that plan, with Sygielski confirming that the building will be sold and that HACC will lease an upper floor in the building, according to PennLive reporting.
The Downtown Lebanon building—HACC’s only downtown campus—has three floors of academic facilities currently, including a library, a faculty suite, classrooms and conference rooms, a science lab, learning and testing centers, a student lounge and cafe space, administrative offices, a bookstore, art studio, computer labs, and a multipurpose room.
The campus building was built on the Cumberland Street site following a devastating 1990 fire that destroyed the former Haak Brothers building, which had been HACC’s first campus in Lebanon. That fire also took the life of Lebanon firefighter Tim Stine.
Speculation for the building has centered around the possibility of the City of Lebanon moving its operations to the site. A Facebook thread by John Tice in the Lebanon, PA Happenings group solicited feedback from the community on this topic, with many responding positively to the idea. Some potential obstacles noted included the potential loss of tax revenue in keeping the property out of commercial use and the added demand for parking.
The move would be in line with plans shared by City of Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello in this year’s State of the City address, held in March. At the event, the Mayor had announced that the City was seeking to construct a downtown parking garage and City Hall complex.
“Moving City Hall downtown will increase foot traffic, police presence, and improve vibrancy in the downtown,” said Capello at the time, noting that the City and Lebanon Transit were also exploring the project as a multi-modal transfer facility.
The City actually received a $2 million grant earlier this year, a fraction of the $8.78 million it had requested but still a substantial sum towards the construction of a proposed three-story and 30,000-square-foot building on the current public parking located at 9th and Cumberland Streets. Here is the official description on that project:
The Transit Intermodal Center will be constructed on 1.6 acres of City-owned property strategically located along two state highways, US 422 and US 72 (9th and Cumberland Streets) in the downtown core. The project will consist of a 3 story, 30,000 square-foot mixed-use building that will include Lebanon’s City Hall, a transit intermodal center and include 10,000 square feet of white space for lease. The parking garage will consist of 3 decks with more than 300 parking spaces for commuters, visitors and secured parking spaces for police. Additionally, the facility will include a secure area for bicycles, space for taxi, Uber and Lyft services and a bus loading/unloading platform with enough space to accommodate 6 buses on site and 2 buses off-site for staging on adjacent city property. Currently the property is improved with a 174 space surface parking lot.
As noted in the Facebook thread linked above, it is not clear if the grant, provided by the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, could be transferred to a different location. The City also owns the lot at 7th & Willow Streets, where Lebanon Transit operates the 7th and Willow St. Transfer Station.
The City has not yet commented on the HACC situation specifically, but we have reached out on this topic and hope to be reporting more in the coming weeks.