A staple of downtown New Cumberland is poised for a makeover.
- New owners have taken over a group of properties that include the former Coakley’s Restaurant and Irish Pub, which closed in 2014 after going bankrupt.
- Plans are still taking shape. But Kara Pierce said she and her partner, engineering executive Bill Tafuto, plan to invest about $1 million to $2 million in renovations.
- The project joins others hoping to attract people to the West Shore borough, such as the renovated West Shore Theatre, which is expected to open this weekend.
- “We want to be able to contribute to all the synergy that’s happening there,” said Pierce, a real estate investor and agent.
- She credited Valerie Copenhaver, New Cumberland’s community and economic development director, with facilitating the sale.
- “The investment that Kara is making into our community to rehab the property and create new active storefronts will continue to drive growth in our downtown and support the vision from the Borough’s 2019 Revitalization Strategy, to create a resilient and more vibrant New Cumberland,” Copenhaver said in an emailed statement.
Where is this happening: A strip of buildings at the corner of Bridge and Third streets in New Cumberland, which is across the Susquehanna River from Harrisburg.
- Through a partnership called Badger Club LLC, Pierce and Tafuto paid $900,000 for the properties, which span 301-311 Bridge St. and 217 Third St.
- The buildings had been owned since 2017 by MML Bridge Street LLC, another local partnership.
- MML had filled most of the properties with the exception of the former Coakley’s space. Tenants include Dead Lightning Distillery.
- Max Liddell, a partner at MML, said it was time to move on and let someone else take over the property. His partners included Doug Morrow, a former mayor of New Cumberland who died earlier this year.
- “We wanted to sell it to someone who really cared about New Cumberland,” said Liddell. “We think they’re going to do good things with it.”
What’s next: Pierce and Tafuto plan to start interior demolition soon, with renovations to begin in 2023.
- In the meantime, they are sounding out potential tenants that would complement other businesses in New Cumberland.
- Steel Works Construction, led by Jonathan Bowser, will be the contractor on the project.
The background: Pierce sees the project as a way to give back to the community she first discovered as a Korean immigrant in the 1990s.
- Her father, a colonel in the Korean Army, had been assigned to the Defense Logistics Agency at the New Cumberland Army Depot.
- “I would love to preserve the kind of atmosphere, the excitement, that welcoming feeling that I had as a kid in New Cumberland,” Pierce said.
- In addition to investing in real estate, Pierce leads a team at real estate firm Keller Williams Realty.
- Tafuto is the co-founder and former president and CEO of ARM Group Enterprises, an engineering firm in Hershey.