Written by: Tim Mekeel, Lancaster Online

A run-down strip of property along the Susquehanna River in Marietta Borough is being redeveloped as a $27 million housing project that could add about 300 residents to the borough.

Riverside Foundry apartments and townhouses will be built on 10.8 acres between West Market, Bridge and Porter streets. Construction is expected to begin in mid November.

Occupancy, scheduled in summer 2020, could boost the borough’s population by more than 11%.

“Marietta is a place where people want to live and we’re giving them the opportunity to do that,” said Jeff Inch, construction president for Inch & Co., a partner in the venture.

Borough officials are delighted that an unattractive tract of about 10 old, deteriorating buildings is being cleared to make way for something the borough badly needs — housing.

The venture, named for the York Barbell foundry that once stood on the parcel, will bring other benefits to the community too.

“It’s a phenomenal project,” said Freddy States, a borough council member who owns two borough businesses — McCleary’s Public House and the Railroad House Inn.

“We’re extremely lucky as a community to have someone pick that spot and to bring a project like this to it,” he added.

Mayor Harold Kulman exclaimed: “This is a great project… That area was, in a sense, depressed.”

States, fellow councilman Jeff Marsh and council President Glen Mazis saw another upside. Adding to the borough’s 2,615 residents will give businesses there more potential customers.

That’s not the only financial plus from the project, Mazis and Kulman pointed out. Donegal School District will get about $205,000 more a year in property taxes from the parcel; the borough, $77,000 more.

One more advantage will be harder to measure.

Mazis said the partners will take a leg of the Northwest River Trail that runs through part of the borough and extend it past their parcel, keeping hikers in the borough longer.

That could lead to more customers for borough businesses too, he said.

“I’m really excited…,” said Mazis, citing the many positive impacts of the housing venture. “Those acres were a bit of an eyesore for Marietta.”

Riverside Foundry will consist of 172 apartments, ranging from one bedroom to three bedrooms, and 12 townhouses. All the buildings will stand three stories tall. Some 48 garages will be available to rent.