Camp Hill, a small town two miles southwest of Harrisburg in Cumberland County, aims to create and promote its vibrant business corridor by implementing recommendations from the report issued today by ULI Philadelphia. At the request of the Camp Hill Borough, ULI – the Urban Land Institute, Philadelphia convened a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to study the commercial and retail district and identify opportunities to develop and encourage entrepreneurial activity. The report’s recommendations include conducting a market study; creating an advocate for the downtown corridor; improving streetscape elements; defining signage standards; and identifying a potentially catalytic project. To view the full report, click here.
“Camp Hill already has many of the attributes necessary for a successful downtown business district,” said George Asimos, TAP Co-Chair and Partner at the law firm of Saul Ewing. “The Panel focused on leveraging the town’s existing assets while giving suggestions to improve regulations and attracting new businesses to form a cohesive and vibrant town center.”
Camp Hill’s high quality schools, safe environment, and the walkable scale of this quaint community are the primary attractions for new residents. However, like many small towns, Camp Hill’s commercial district has evolved with little or no planning, resulting in inconsistent streetscape, a hodgepodge of signage and a retail mix heavy on services and light on goods.
The 16-member all-volunteer Panel of ULI members was tasked with focusing on three key areas: how to attract and retain merchants; how to change the look of Market Street by converting existing buildings to residential and retail uses; and how to incentivize absentee landlords to convert or sell dilapidated buildings. The Panel interviewed 26 stakeholders representing a diverse cross-section of interested parties, from elected and appointed officials and merchants to longtime residents.
“With the current framework, Camp Hill has an incredible opportunity to create a lively, exciting downtown,” said Anne Deeter Gallaher, TAP Co-Chair and Founder and CEO of the Deeter Gallaher Group. “From investing in greenery to encourage biking and pedestrian activity to coordinating signage and lighting, ULI Philadelphia has provided Camp Hill with a vision in place to design a successful commercial and retail corridor.”
The report features the following recommendations:
- Conduct a market study. As a first step, this might be as simple as using social media to solicit input.
- Identify an individual to quarterback creation of a business development organization and to act as liaison with Borough Council.
- Choose several preliminary and affordable streetscape improvements, such as an informational kiosk or well-designed wayfinding signage.
- Improve pedestrian experience with attractive, clearly marked crosswalks and uniform sidewalks.
- Clearly define the boundaries of the commercial district so that that the Borough knows where to focus.
- Decrease visual clutter and identify ways to make merchant signage more consistent.
- Establish character for Market Street; consider developing a logo that can be used on signs, banners, and marketing materials.
- Develop a strategy for distressed properties; implement and employ available tools to incentivize property owners.
- Choose a catalytic project. Identify and approach a successful merchant with the goal of expanding his or her footprint on Market Street.
With visible streetscape improvements, an improved pedestrian experience, an energized association of business and property owners, and a shared vision, Camp Hill Borough can enjoy a commercial district that is vibrant, authentic, and uniquely its own.
“The Camp Hill report is the fourth such TAP conducted by ULI Philadelphia within the Central Pennsylvania market within the last few years,” said Antonio Fiol-Silva, FAIA, Chair of ULI Philadelphia. “ULI has been providing advisory services for more than 75 years and we are privileged to bring our members’ expertise to bear on this important community outreach service within our region.” To view the full report and its recommendations, click here.