By Jadrian Klinger and Jen Merrill
From the quaint downtown businesses on Main Street to the hustle and bustle of the Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg is a catchall area comprised of a variety of municipalities. Residential and commercial spaces coexist with ease, and with effortless access to multiple interstates – as well as the Pennsylvania Turnpike – Mechanicsburg is well suited for those who wish to explore.
Kyle Miller feels passionate about the area. As a local resident, borough council member and realtor, he has a lot invested in this community. In the realty business, he sees himself as “somebody who helps people reach their goals by finding a house that fits their budget, dreams and hopes and ticks off all the boxes on their wish list.”
“I really want people to consider Mechanicsburg because of the amenities that we have and the potential we have,” says Miller. “We have a wide variety of housing stock from the 1800s to the 1950s to the 1980s. Georgian style to duplex and split-level. We have something for everybody.”
According to the Mechanicsburg Museum Association, the history of Mechanicsburg dates back to the mid to late 1700s. The name started popping up around 1811 or 1812 as various mechanics set up shop on Trindle and Simpson Ferry roads. The rich history of the area – which you can read more about starting on page 54 – gives it a charm all its own.
“Mechanicsburg has maintained a fairly stable housing market through the crisis,” explains Miller. “We still are plagued with the typical problems of the housing market, which is foreclosures and whatnot. We have the same problems that everyone else does. Our prices have come down slightly but remain pretty stable because of the stable employment in this area with the federal and state government.”
One of the biggest perks to living in the borough of Mechanicsburg is the walkability of the downtown area. Miller notes the shops, restaurants, art galleries and “broad range of services” all located in a small vicinity. Most of the Mechanicsburg Area School District schools are in the borough, which allows students to walk to school. There’s even a GIANT Food Store less than a mile away from the heart of downtown Mechanicsburg, making it easy for residents to get there and back on foot. Miller feels that walkability is an attractive quality to younger and older folks alike.
“There’s a trend called ‘aging in place,’ where you can walk to the grocery store or walk downtown and get around easily,” says Miller. “We have that going for us.”
Beyond offering residents the ability to get around the downtown area, Mechanicsburg is well located for those who wish to get around on a larger scale. Day trips to Lancaster, Philadelphia and Baltimore are a breeze, but it’s equally as easy to immerse yourself in the Pennsylvania outdoors along the Appalachian Trail or in a nearby state park. Airports in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C. make it easy for residents to head anywhere in the world.
“It’s convenient,” says Miller. “It’s not far away from anywhere, but it’s not directly in a city. It’s not right in the middle of everything.”
Though some newer developments are popping up all over Mechanicsburg – including a 700-unit Landmark neighborhood off South Market Street that will feature high-end apartments, single-family homes, townhomes, a pool and even a commercial element – a lot of the housing stock in the Mechanicsburg borough is older. Miller reminds people that their dream home may take some time, energy and money to truly come to fruition. But it’s totally worth it.
“Don’t be afraid of a project,” suggests Miller. “You can make a house in Mechanicsburg the way you want, and it’s not going to take too much work. You’re going to have to invest in elbow grease and money, but you can buy a gem in Mechanicsburg and make it the way you want it. It’ll improve the home’s value. It’s a worthwhile investment.”
Being able to customize an existing house allows first-time homebuyers to truly create a place that’s all their own. Older homes in the borough each have character to them, which ensures that your dwelling will be unlike any other. Miller notes the importance of such re-use and redesign, as opposed to developing farmland or forests.
“I always like the concept of re-using things and making things your own without going out and building on undeveloped land. Mechanicsburg is kind of in transition from the first or second owners of a home. For example, the ranch homes that were built after World War II are transitioning to younger people in their 20s or 30s who are first-time homebuyers. Let’s think about that sustainability,” suggests Miller. “I think Mechanicsburg is really well-positioned in the future to benefit from that movement.”
One of the biggest concerns for families looking to relocate is the schooling options that exist in their potential community. Mechanicsburg is rich with educational opportunities, supported by a strong backbone of public school systems. Both Mechanicsburg Area School District and Cumberland Valley School District service the area. In reference to the 2011-2012 PSSA results, both school districts performed higher than the state average in all categories, which include reading, math, writing and science. See the chart below for more details.
Mechanicsburg also has a selection of private schools including Emmanuel Baptist Christian Academy (PreK-12), Faith Tabernacle School (1-12), The Montessori School and Children’s House (PreK-3) and St. Joseph School (K-8).
There are also a myriad of private school options that exist beyond the boundaries of Mechanicsburg but are still available to residents, such as Brookside Montessori School (PreK and K), Circle School (PreK-12), Harrisburg Academy (PreK-12), St. Stephen’s Episcopal School (PreK-8) and Trinity High School (9-12).
Students in Mechanicsburg also have the option to attend the Commonwealth Connections Academy (K-12), a tuition-free online charter school that offers students an accredited public education from their own homes.