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“We were just trying to make sure that on

Wednesday morning, we were allowed to do the same things we were doing on Tuesday night,” he said. Te city disagreed, insisting that the site served

primarily as a warehouse. “We’d have to have a more thorough understanding

exactly of what economic activity is going on there, but it’s my understanding that it’s primarily storage or warehousing at this point,” said city Planner/ Zoning Officer Geoffrey Knight at a City Council meeting last month. To try to make changes to the code, Meinstein

took a public stance, speaking his piece at several public hearings. He also saw it as an opportune time to let the people of Harrisburg know what had become of their old post office, that he was putting back into productive use an enormous, strategically located building that the federal government no longer wanted. He received only slight satisfaction. Several City Council members tried, but failed, to pass a narrowly targeted amendment that would have continued to allow a full array of industrial uses at 815 Market by right,

including manufacturing, assembly

and distribution. In the end, council agreed only that assembly would be allowed in the new Downtown Center zone— and not by right. Te Zoning Hearing Board would have to agree to a special exception for the use. Still, Meinstein plans to continue trying to change minds by suggesting amendments to the new zoning code during the six-month review period. Otherwise, he’ll operate on the belief that the building’s historic industrial uses—including warehouse, distribution and assembly/fabrication—are grandfathered uses for his building. “We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing,” he said. In his view, the city’s stance represents wishful thinking. Te administration and council may want to extend downtown to Cameron Street, but there’s currently no demand for new offices or housing there—and may not be for many years, he said. What is there demand for? Te industrial uses that his building was designed for. “It was not a great message for the business

“Usually, I like to keep a low profile,” he said. Tat, however, began to change in June, when the Papenfuse administration reintroduced a new zoning code that had been moldering on the shelves for four years. Te code rezoned the old post office site from industrial to a new zone called “Downtown Center,” as the city tried to push the boundaries of downtown up Market Street towards Cameron. With the change, industrial uses would not be permitted in the area by right. “Tis building went from a single tenant, the U.S.

Postal Service, to a living, breathing, mixed-use building, including industrial,” said Meinstein. “Te new code takes away industrial use.”

He objected. His building, “grandfathered” in,

would be exempt from the restrictions of the new zone as long as the existing uses were unchanged. But he feared negative consequences if a future tenant wanted to propose other industrial uses. Te fact that the building was constructed for industrial purposes—with 40 dock doors, 22-foot- high ceilings, a large truck court and massive freight elevators—made that scenario likely, he said. In fact, he said his building already housed a wide

variety of uses, as tenant Exhibit Studios was using it for assembly and fabrication, in addition to storage. Terefore, all these uses should be grandfathered, he insisted.

community at large that these uses did not just get clearly approved in a highly functional, well- maintained industrial building,” he said. In fact, 815 Market is one of the few decent

structures left in a corridor that once housed thriving industrial concerns as diverse as a brewery, a print shop and the Patriot-News press and distribution facilities. Abandoned buildings and large surface lots now dominate the area between the railroad tracks and Cameron Street. “Look around here,” he said, gesturing into the distance towards Market Street. “What do you see? Tere are vacant buildings, distressed properties. Tat one building has trees growing out of the roof.” Ten he pointed back to his building. “Tis property has long-term potential,” he said.

“We have a lot of room to do what we need to do, what the city needs to have happen.”

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