Commissioners approve $5.3 million Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank Loan for Susquehanna Union Green development road improvements
HARRISBURG, PA (December 19, 2018) –The Vartan Group Inc. became the first developer today to take advantage of the Dauphin County Commissioners’ innovative Infrastructure Bank, receiving a $5.3 million low-interest loan for road improvements needed for the planned Susquehanna Union Green project along Linglestown Road.
“We created the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank because we knew that some large residential, commercial or industrial projects could only get done if financing was available for road improvements that many times are necessary,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “Susquehanna Union Green is an economically important project for Susquehanna Township and the region.’’
In applying for the $5.3 million loan from the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank (DCIB) – offered at 1 percent interest over 10 years – H. Ralph Vartan, CEO of the Vartan Group, said the, “extraordinary nature of this project’’ created the need for low-cost financing.
Susquehanna Union Green plans call for a mix of residential and commercial development on 58 acres at Progress and Linglestown roads that include 26 commercial/retail buildings; a hotel with 110 rooms; a senior-living community; and 31 single-family homes. Road improvements funded by the loan include the widening of portions of Linglestown Road and Progress Avenue, a new traffic signal at the intersection of Progress and Garrison Avenues, offsite improvements at the intersection of Progress Avenue and Paxton Church Road, sidewalks and crosswalks, and utilities within the PennDOT right-of-way.
“We are very fortunate for the leadership in Dauphin County to have the foresight to create an Infrastructure Bank and support economic development in our communities,” said Vartan.
“This program will directly support millions of dollars of infrastructure investment and transportation improvements for Susquehanna Township and all those who travel these key corridors,” Vartan said. “These transportation improvements are an integral component of Susquehanna Union Green, to achieve the vision of a town center for Susquehanna Township. We are humbled by the support and partnership of Dauphin County in helping to make this vision into reality.”
“This board has held the line on property taxes for 14 years and one of the ways we’ve been able to do that is by looking for innovative ways to spur economic development that helps the local and county tax base,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “We want other developers to know that this board is willing to work with you to make job-creating, beneficial projects a reality.’’
The commissioners also noted the road improvements come at a good time since the county and the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission are in the midst of a transportation and land use study along the Route 39/743 corridor encompassing Susquehanna, Lower Paxton, South Hanover, West Hanover and Derry townships. The study’s goal is to develop short-, mid- and long-term recommendations.
“Today’s action shows the importance of this board’s long-standing approach to work with local elected officials and the private sector for the benefit of our residents,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “Leadership is about seeing challenges as opportunities, and in creating the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank, we seized the opportunity to help our communities without spending limited tax dollars.’’
The DCIB loan is with Hawthorne SPE, LLC, which is solely owned by Vartan’s Buonarroti Trust. As collateral, Hawthorne is issuing a promissory note and mortgage on the development in addition to a guaranty from the trust.
Dauphin County in 2013 was the first in the state to form an infrastructure bank to help fund transportation-related projects, earning the commissioners the Governor’s Award for Innovative Community/Governmental Initiatives in 2017. DCIB’s creation was possible because the county’s successful bridge maintenance program made it possible to use the roughly $1 million the county receives annually in liquid fuels money (generated from taxes on petroleum products) to leverage $30 million from PennDOT’s Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank.
Since its creation, DCIB has provided $16.4 million in low-interest loans for a variety of municipal projects, including stormwater drainage improvements in neighborhoods between the Susquehanna River and North 6th Street, fixing a dangerous West Hanover intersection, significantly repairing three Harrisburg streets and helping Middletown’s downtown revitalization efforts.
To learn more about the Dauphin County Infrastructure Bank, go to www.dauphincounty.org/government/departments/community_and_economic_development and look under Industrial Development Authority.