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State seeks new office for employees as it prepares to sell former hospital

Written by Brett Sholtis/WITF News | Jan 18, 2019 3:29 PM
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The former Harrisburg State Hospital closed in 2006 and now serves as government offices. (Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health)

(Harrisburg) -- As the Pennsylvania Department of General Services prepares to sell the former Harrisburg State Hospital property, it's looking for a new office for about 880 state employees. 

The state hospital treated people with mental illness until it closed in 2006 as part of a push to close state institutions and move those patients into their home communities

Since its closure, the state has used some of the former hospital buildings as offices, said Department of General Services spokesman Troy Thompson.

Many of those who work there today staff the Department of Human Services' 24/7 ChildLine, which helps to prevent and stop child abuse and neglect, Thompson said. 

The state needs between 115,000 and 130,000 square feet of office space for those workers, as well as other employees from Department of Human Services and Office of Administration, Thompson said. The office must be within boundaries set by the state, in portions of Dauphin and Cumberland counties.

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A sign is posted near the former Harrisburg State Hospital, which now serves as government offices. The facility closed in 2006. (Brett Sholtis/Transforming Health)

The move will save taxpayers money in the long run, Thompson said. The state spends between $2.5 million and $3.5 million each year on maintenance and security at Harrisburg State Hospital and the 200-acre property that surrounds it.

Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick III said the sale of the hospital will give Susquehanna Township and Dauphin County a chance to put the property back on their tax rolls. It also gives the county a chance to add businesses along the bustling corridor near the Farm Show complex.

"That corridor has great, great opportunity, and I think if done right will enhance the willingness of other investors to understand the economic benefits of making an investment here in Central Pennsylvania," Hartwick said.  

Thompson said the state hopes to move the employees by May 2020.

For those interested in leasing property to the state, the Bureau of Real Estate will hold a public forum 10 a.m. on Feb. 5 at the Forum Place building, 555 Walnut St., Harrisburg. Proposals must be in by 3 p.m. on March 15. 

Published in Harrisburg, News

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