News

A Nightclub In Hershey?

‘The West End’
By Dave Buffington

Do you want a nightclub in downtown Hershey?

The Sun has learned that “The West End” is the preliminary name for a “best- in-class live music experience” and “high- end casual dining experience” to be located between West Chocolate Avenue and Hersheypark.

The proposed club would be located on the three-acre site of the old Hershey Foods “Extraction Plant” on North First Street south of the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

Several existing buildings would be demolished to create parking spaces. Other buildings would be retained and refurbished into an industrial-style venue. According to preliminary information obtained by The Sun, the club would keep the plant’s distinctive red tile silos.

Name Players

According to Dauphin County records, the site is owned by “Hershey Foods Corporation & Hershey Chocolate USA,” predecessors of The Hershey Company, one of the Hershey entities.


Lighthouse on Park Boulevard 
Photo: Bryce Detweiler. Lighthouse on Park Boulevard Photo: Bryce Detweiler. However, The Sun has learned of a potential deal to combine all the old Hershey Foods properties on North 1st Street. Further unconfirmed reports suggest that the deal will involve a prominent Milton Hershey School graduate.

The firm proposing the club was established in June 2012 and is working under the name “Loto Station LLC.” The registered address of Loto Station LLC is also the home address of Jeff Sharp, a principal of State Street Advisors, a Harrisburg lobbying firm.

Information seen by The Sun also indicates the involvement of Rick Russell, an attorney and lobbyist with The Hershey Company.

That same information says that “Limited vetting to local government officials has been overwhelmingly positive.”

One of Many

“The West End” is one of many moves that could change the area near West Chocolate and Old West Chocolate avenues into a tourist and entertainment destination, part of the conversion of the entire downtown area into “Hersheypark South.”

Indeed, one argument for “The West End” is that the club “Ties the west end of Chocolate Avenue to the entertainment core.”

Indeed, a major new hotel is already under construction on Hockersville Road. The old “Curry Mill” on Old West Chocolate Avenue was recently sold, and plans are in progress to turn it into a restaurant. (See “Bar or Nightclub?” on Page 6.)

Residents at the nearby “Fratti Acres” mobile home park were recently evicted, setting the stage for the sale and development of that property.

Hersheypark Expansion?

Meanwhile, across the railroad tracks, there’s a large, vacant piece of land. It’s the site of the old Hershey Parkview golf course and the old Hershey community pool.

Right now, the area is best known for the pool’s lighthouse, which sits oddly in the middle of a grassy field, cut off from Hersheypark by Park Boulevard.

That will change if federal funding can be obtained to reroute Park Boulevard.

That project has being billed as a safety project, and indeed, there are safety issues with the winding, little road that runs hard against Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World.

“Park Boulevard’s current alignment in this area is considered substandard according to commonly accepted design standards,” HRG client manager Brian Emberg told The Sun. “The roadway contains several reverse horizontal curves concurrent with dramatic changes in the vertical profile, resulting in poor vehicular sight and stopping distance.”

However, the plan would also reconnect roughly 30 acres of land – acres already owned by the Hershey entities – with Hersheypark.

Acres where HE&R could build new rides.

Acres across the railroad tracks from “The West End.”

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After we went to press with this issue, we received a response from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company on the subject of Park Boulevard realignment and Hersheypark expansion.

Garrett Gallia, HE&R’s Vice President, Communications & Corporate Relations, wrote:

As you probably know, the immediate goals behind the realignment project were to provide for safer travel on a new north/south travel corridor, to replace a structurally deficient bridge, and to improve traffic management and emergency access.   These goals are certainly tied to the over-arching vision for continued economic development in our region.

As mentioned, I'm sure the Township has much greater detail on how this project specifically impacts these areas.

To answer your final question - at this time, HE&R doesn't have any plans for expansion into, or utilization of, that parcel. 


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