The Lebanon Valley Exposition Center & Fairgrounds, the City of Lebanon, and two local businesses have applied to the commonwealth’s Office of Budget for Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grants to help fund Lebanon County projects.

According to its website, RACP is a state program that partially funds “regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement” projects that have “a regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity.”

In addition to Lebanon city and the Expo Center, Allegheny County-based Whole Plants LLC and North Cornwall Township-based Springwood Development Partners LP have applied for a combined $22.8 million in RACP grants.

Grants are competitive and not guaranteed.

Public comment on the applications may be submitted no later than Feb. 29 by letter or email. Addresses and instructions for submitting comments can be found here (pdf).

City of Lebanon wants to build downtown parking garage

The City of Lebanon wants to build a five-story, 294-space downtown parking garage on property it owns at 7th & Willow streets. The total estimated cost is $7.2 million. The city is seeking half that amount from RACP and says it will raise the balance in matching funds.

The city’s application reads, in part, “Two prior parking studies support the need for additional long-term parking. Some investors have shared a lack of commitment to investment in the downtown without additional dedicated long-term parking spaces. This parking garage will help bridge the gap for more long-term parking needed for residents, students, business employees & visitors looking to spend several hours dining and shopping in the downtown.”

The two parking studies were done in 1984 and 2002.

The city unsuccessfully applied for RACP money in 2021, partly to fund a parking garage.

Expo Center seeks to add 40,000-square-foot arena

The Lebanon Valley Exposition Corp., operator of the Lebanon Valley Exposition Center & Fairgrounds in North Cornwall Township, has applied for a $4 million RACP grant to help build a new 40,000-square-foot arena to complement three existing buildings on property it already owns at Cornwall and Rocherty roads.

The total estimated cost of the project, which would add five jobs to the center’s current six-person workforce, is a little over $8.5 million.

The nonprofit corporation’s application says that the expo center “is a signature asset of Lebanon County – hosting over 60,000 visitors a year and providing significant local and regional economic impact. The construction of a new 40,000+ square foot arena to complement the three older existing buildings, will modernize the complex – allowing increased and enhanced visitor opportunities.”

The expo center and fairgrounds currently feature 75,000 square feet of indoor exhibition space, over 70 acres of fairgrounds, livestock and equestrian facilities, a dirt track with bleacher seating, an outdoor pavilion, kitchen, hook-ups for vendors or campers.

The fairgrounds also host the annual Lebanon Area Fair, scheduled this year for July 20-27.

Construction is projected to start in September 2024 and be completed that November.

Read More: Lebanon fairgrounds, gem of the county, undergoes renovations

Developer will continue N. Cornwall Commons construction

Springwood Development Partners LP is seeking slightly over $10 million in RACP money to cover about half the cost of constructing Phases 4 and 5 of the North Cornwall Commons, a commercial and retail development at Rocherty and Cornwall roads, near the expo center.

Springwood says Phases 4 and 5 will be built on 65 acres and include 151,000 square feet of retail space, including a bank, car wash, theater, and restaurant, as well as 76,000 square feet of office space.

Read More: Looking out toward the future of North Cornwall Commons: What’s coming next?

Springwood is a partnership between Blackford Development of Lancaster County and Cornwall-based Byler Holdings LLC.

In its grant application, Springwood maintains that “[t]his project brings a wealth of benefits to a community. Firstly, it’s a job generator — creating employment directly through construction and operation and indirectly by fostering local business growth. Economically, it will spark local spending, boosting revenue through taxes.”

The application says the project will expand Springwood’s workforce from 25 to 100.

Springwood’s application goes on to assert that the project will “also prompt infrastructure enhancements, benefiting not only the development itself but the entire area. Improved amenities and services will enrich residents’ lives, while community engagement initiatives will foster a sense of belonging. Moreover, property values will increase, benefiting homeowners and local enterprises. This project will be a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, attracting further investment. Ultimately, it will introduce diversity and choice, offering a range of services that enhance the community’s overall quality of life.”

Springwood received a $500,000 RACP grant in 2022.

Medical marijuana grower plans new dispensaries

Whole Plants LLC is based in Allegheny County and does business as Whole Plants Health. It has a “grower-processor facility” on North 8th Avenue, Lebanon, and operates Pennsylvania-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, including one in Annville.

Whole Plants is asking RACP for $5.192 million, half of what it needs to build three new county dispensaries, each with “flower rooms where plants are moved from vegetation and allowed to grow to maturity, drying rooms where plants are stored after harvest and allowed to evaporate excess moisture.”

Each new dispensary will also have a “break room, men’s and women’s locker and restrooms that allow employees to safely change in and out of protective wear and equipment, a laboratory to develop products beyond existing product line, as well as administrative offices for each facility.”

If its RACP application is successful, Whole Plants says it plans to start work within a year, and that the project will add 15 jobs to its current 20-employee local workforce.

Whole Plants received a $1.25 million RACP grant in 2022 and a $2.5 million grant in 2021.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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