City considers expansion of business district

City administration officials said Wednesday they will pursue expansion of the Central Business District to areas north of Little League Boulevard toward the Williamsport Regional Medical Center to create more retail and opportunities for professional and administrative buildings and offices.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said he wants to see expansion to increase the city tax revenue and to remove blighted properties, including an unused former Trimtex building on Park Avenue, he said.

“Not all areas are part of the rezoning effort,” said zoning officer Gary Knarr. The proposed amendment to the zoning map would be for portions of Seventh Street, Memorial Avenue, Little League Boulevard and Cherry Street, Knarr said.

A change to the zoning map requires an amendment. Knarr said his first contact to make that happen will be with the Lycoming County Department of Planning, before he brings the concept to the city Economic Revitalization Committee and planning commission.

“The purpose would be to make parts of the city zoned light-manufacturing and commercial part of the Central Business District,” Knarr said.

“I’d like to get the proposed amendment to the zoning map before City Council by the end of April,” Knarr said.

Campana said the prior expansion of the district east brought about the development of Panera Bread and soon-to-open Backyard Barbecue on Basin Street.

“We have a dormant industrial building on Park Avenue between the hospital and downtown,” he said of areas north of Little League Boulevard. “I think there could be better opportunity for growth by rezoning.”

Knarr said the city accomplished similar rezoning of the area around and at the former Brodart warehouse on Memorial Avenue.

“The change was from a light-manufacturing zone to residential urban,” he said.

From that zoning change, private development is under way to build Memorial Homes.

The housing development is envisioned to have 40 apartments, 32 townhouses and space for two residential homes built by Greater Lycoming Habitat for Humanity once the warehouse is razed this spring.