Case Studies

Brad Jones – Harristown Development Corporation 

Revitalizing Downtown Harrisburg 

Brad Jones, the president of Harristown Development Corporation (HDC), has been a driving force behind the transformative revitalization of downtown Harrisburg, contributing significantly to the city and the broader region. With a profound understanding of redevelopment’s crucial role in rejuvenating a declining downtown area, Jones has led Harristown on a remarkable journey of urban renewal. 

Brad Jones | President & CEO | Harristown Development Corporation 

Brad Jones | President & CEO | Harristown Development Corporation

The establishment of Harristown Development Corporation in 1974 marked a crucial moment in Harrisburg’s history. At that time, the downtown area faced disinvestment and blight. Recognizing a vibrant Capital City’s indispensable role in the region’s overall success, Harristown embarked on a mission to breathe new life into downtown Harrisburg. Jones and his dedicated team have worked tirelessly to foster interaction, encourage project development, and engage the Capitol Complex and its 30,000 employees in the revitalization efforts. 

“Harrisburg is a historic city with a modern outlook, easily accessible outdoor activities, historic landmarks and annual festivals. Our job is maintaining an environment promoting increased business activity and returning visitors,” Jones says.  

This commitment underscores the importance of preserving the city’s distinctive charm while ushering in progress. One of Harristown’s key strengths lies in its creative approach to projects. Continuously introducing unique and innovative design concepts, the company has become a trailblazer in urban planning.  

A shining example of this creativity is the ClockBox, a one-of-a-kind “conference room in the sky” situated within the flagship atrium of Strawberry Square. The ClockBox provides an exclusive space for meetings and events, exemplifying Harristown’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional urban development. Strawberry Square has further seen the addition of a new stage and performance area, enriching the area’s cultural vibrancy. 

Important landmarks 

Strawberry Square has something for everyone and is a prime example of Harristown’s effectiveness in creating and reinventing mixed-use spaces. It encompasses 24 upscale apartments, a fitness center, a daycare facility, a food court, a charter arts high school, a university incubator and a UPMC family care doctor’s office. A skywalk also connects it to the Hilton Harrisburg. Including artwork and murals within  

“Strawberry Square enhances its aesthetic appeal, creating a thriving and visually stimulating urban space and a one-of-a-kind atmosphere,” Jones says.  

Brad Jones | President & CEO | Harristown Development Corporation 

The South of Market neighborhood (SoMa) is another noteworthy project in the area. Over the past 25 years, Harristown has made steady investments in SoMa, gradually transforming it into an attractive destination for visitors, residents, and office workers. Jones explains that Harrisburg University’s recent completion of its Health Sciences Tower at 222 Chestnut Street in SoMa represents a significant milestone, serving as a hub for various healthcare programs and featuring dedicated space for advanced manufacturing.  

Reflecting on the past five decades since the founding of Harristown Development Corporation, the downtown area has undergone remarkable changes. Initially focused on connecting the downtown area with the state government, the focus has shifted to the growth of the educational corridors, medical corridors and the increase in residential units in the downtown area.  

“These three areas have been essential in driving growth over the past 15 years and hold promising opportunities for further development,” Jones states. 

Loving innovation—and Harrisburg 

After earning a degree in forest science from Penn State University, Jones spent nearly a decade in Washington, D.C., as a legislative and regulatory specialist for the American Petroleum Institute. He spent three years with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture before joining Harristown in July 2000 (he became president in January 2015).  

Jones’s interest in real estate and development was sparked while living in Washington, D.C., where he developed a profound affinity for urban communities. Returning to Harrisburg, his involvement with the Harrisburg Young Professionals—a group dedicated to improving the city’s quality of life—fueled his passion for making a tangible difference in the city. Joining Harristown provided him with the platform to contribute significantly to the revitalization of downtown Harrisburg. 

Brad Jones | President & CEO | Harristown Development Corporation 

Jones’s love for Harrisburg is palpable, evident in his unwavering dedication to the city’s revitalization efforts. By being an integral part of Harristown, he can actively contribute to making Harrisburg a stellar place to live, work, and play. 

Jones has encountered various challenges throughout his career, with conflicts and personnel issues posing the most significant hurdles. His optimistic outlook and unwavering passion for his work have been instrumental in overcoming these challenges. A positive attitude and a commitment to his work characterize Jones’s leadership style. 

Beyond the boardroom, Jones finds solace and joy in outdoor activities, including running, hiking, kayaking, bicycling, and swimming. An avid guitar player who prefers Fender guitars and amps, he also indulges in his love for music. His cherished downtime activities include reading, cooking, and entertaining friends and guests. Jones, a family man, enjoys traveling and vacationing with his wife and three grown children, exploring unique and diverse cultures worldwide. 

“Harrisburg has so much potential, and every year, we make more progress to help make this a truly great small city,” Jones says.

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2024 Edition here.  

 

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