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Changes keep coming along Route 230, and it’s exciting: Editorial

Posted 7/19/17

What will the stretch of Route 230 between the Airport Connector road and Nissley Street look like in five years?

How will it affect residents of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township?

The …

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Changes keep coming along Route 230, and it’s exciting: Editorial

Posted

What will the stretch of Route 230 between the Airport Connector road and Nissley Street look like in five years?

How will it affect residents of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township?

The 1.4-mile stretch of road will look much different then, that’s for sure, especially near Harrisburg International Airport.

By the end of 2018, the HIA area will go from zero hotels to two. The groundbreaking was held Tuesday for the long-promised Comfort Inn & Suites across Route 230 from the airport. The 87-room facility is expected to open in the spring of next year, and the 123-room Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel now under construction on HIA property is targeted to open in August 2018. 

That’s more than 200 rooms, just like that.

How do these hotels affect you, a resident who likely will never stay in them? You will benefit, or be hindered by, the people who stay there. It depends on your point of view.

People who stay in hotels need to eat. They need gas. They sometimes need to shop, even if it’s just for something small such as a last-minute item for their trip.

That spins out into more business. So if you want more retail options a short drive away, then you look forward to what comes next.

Indeed, the Comfort Inn & Suites is part of the Linden Centre development, which hasn’t seen much movement over recent months. The hotel will change that. Seven more buildings are planned at the site — besides the CVS and Sharp Shopper complex that are already there.

It would seem likely that one of those would be a restaurant, maybe a chain eatery in the vein of Applebee’s. People who stay at hotels want to eat dinner, and they want it nearby, within walking distance. It just makes sense.

It also likely will create more traffic along that stretch. People coming to the hotels will have to drive there, and buy gas. So if you don’t like waiting in long lines of cars at the lights along that stretch, you will likely notice a change.

Could we also get a big box store? A 30,000-square-foot building is planned to the east of Sharp Shopper, which is 37,000 square feet.

But the changes extend far past that. At Westport Centre, on West Main Street in Middletown, three new small businesses will open soon. An AT&T retail store plans to open in the first week of August.

Tony’s Pizzeria, now in Highspire, plans to open a second location. A new Chinese restaurant, Hong’s Wok, will be moving in. That’s in addition to the eatery/bar at the other end of Westport Centre, the Hop Yard, which opened last July.

Why the boom there? Antonio Barone, owner of Tony’s Pizzeria, put it very succinctly and accurately: “That college is only getting bigger.”

Ah, yes, Penn State Harrisburg. The number of students there, international or otherwise, continues to grow. They, too, want places to eat and things to do.

We haven’t even mentioned one other big change that will come in the next five years — at least, it’s supposed to happen. That’s the new Amtrak station and the area surrounding it.

There will be commercial development at the Middletown train station site, which could include anything from retail establishments to a hotel. We were told that in late 2016, so a third hotel might not be part of the final plans. The project also includes building a pedestrian bridge over West Main Street — Route 230 — to connect the train station to the Penn State Harrisburg campus, and extending Emaus Street to West Main Street. 

In other words, the area between the Tattered Flag brewery/restaurant at the corner of Union and Emaus streets and where the Comfort Inn & Suites will be built will seem much less disjointed. Middletown/Lower Swatara Township will have a stretch of commercial and retail offerings that might actually draw some folks here, something that has been lacking despite the presence of HIA.

This will affect our tax base and our infrastructure, not to mention the way this area of Dauphin County is perceived. These are all good things.

We say, bring on the changes. This should be fun.

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