Tuesday, March 31, 1998

If they're buying property, they must be staying put, right? - March 31, 1998

The Harrisburg Patriot
Copyright 1998

Tuesday, March 31, 1998


Law school nears its first expansion outside of Carlisle // Dickinson buying Financial Trust's Allen Road center

Charles Thompson
Patriot News Carlisle Bureau

CARLISLE -- The Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University is close to completing the purchase of Financial Trust Corp.'s operations center off Allen Road.

The deal would mark the 164-year-old law school's first expansion outside of downtown Carlisle.

Robert M. Frey, president of the law school's board of trustees, said the purchase would enable the school -- which merged with Penn State last year -- to educate its lawyers-in-training most efficiently and effectively.

Frey said the site could be used to develop more library space for older volumes that are used infrequently and to relocate some administrative offices now housed in the second floor of the law school's Shughart Center on North Pitt Street.

The site also could provide space for education programs and the new Agricultural Law Research and Education Center, as well as storage space for law-school records.

The operations center -- consisting of an office and a warehouse totaling about 29,000-square-feet on 10-plus acres just north of the Exit 12 interchange of Interstate 81-- was put up for sale last year after the Harrisburg-based Keystone Financial acquired Financial Trust Corp.

Many of the facility's employees have been transferred to other positions within the bank or laid off -- bank officials estimated about 45 positions have been cut as a result of the Keystone acquisition.

Rob Rahal, president of Financial Trust's Western Division, said audit and check-processing functions remaining at the facility will be moved to other Carlisle-area bank offices before Dec. 31.

?We will continue to do both of those duties locally,? Rahal said.

University and bank officials declined to comment on the sale price for the buildings.

Frey stressed that the addition of the new space is an outgrowth of strategic planning that predates the merger with Penn State.

?This is not a step toward any intended increase in enrollment at the law school,' Frey said, noting that most Dickinson Law students will rarely, if ever, visit the new buildings.

?But we are cramped now,? he added, ?and any opportunities for expansion at existing facilities] are limited.'

Frey could offer no timetable for completion of what he called amicable negotiations for the tract.

With the proposed conversion, the law school could have the Allen Road buildings removed from local property tax rolls.

Financial Trust paid more than $30,000 a year in property taxes on the two lots, including $22,333 to the Carlisle Area School District, $6,238 to Carlisle, and $4,289 to Cumberland County.

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