Chambersburg revitalization progressing

September 19, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In three years, efforts to revitalize downtown Chambersburg have come a long way.

But it's going to take even more community effort to carry out the new ideas and plans to keep the heart of the town pumping on into the next century.

At an hour-long town meeting Thursday night in the Central Presbyterian Church, attended by about 25 people, Downtown Chambersburg Inc. Executive Director Paul Cullinane Jr. outlined the past three years of the ongoing project to revitalize the downtown and plans for the future.

The goal remains the same - to make the downtown attractive to the general public on several different levels - from promoting new businesses to fill the store fronts to developing it as a cultural and historical center.


Since 1994, when Cullinane was hired and Downtown Chambersburg Inc. was formed, the area has seen some remarkable improvements.

The Capitol Theatre alone has received almost a half million dollars through grants, pledges and in-kind gifts for its makeover and promotion, Cullinane said.

Downtown Chambersburg Inc. has received $227,350 in local, state and federal grants, which has been put toward the downtown project.

Increased security, property improvements, additional parking and promotional activities - all concerns brought up at a town meeting three years ago - have been implemented to improve the downtown area, he added.

Though the relocation of some big businesses, including J.C. Penney and The Christian Light Book Store, have hurt the downtown, efforts to recruit new businesses are ongoing, Cullinane said.

"We know we've got some major holes, but it's not over," he said.

In fact, the downtown has experienced a net gain of 10 businesses since 1994, Cullinane pointed out on a chart.

"We're still staying ahead of it," he said.

The development of The Village on the Falling Spring, which until recently was an idea on paper, will see its first tenant occupy the former Culp's Warehouse on the site by November.

The organization has also held a variety of events and activities, including a walking tour of the town and Chambersburg Pride Day, to generate interest in the area.

In the next three years, Cullinane said the goal is to keep moving ahead with the master plan.

"New business recruitment is my number one priority," Cullinane said.

The plan also includes projects like constructing a visitor welcome center at the old jail, revitalizing two old hotels in town, and developing rails-to-trails, among a variety of other projects.

The Herald-Mail Articles