The Valley has tons of cool new buildings, including Evangelical Community Hospital’s PRIME and numerous properties at Bucknell and Susquehanna universities. There are plenty of unique, old buildings, many of which have housed businesses or residences for decades.

The Daily Item is in the middle of a project looking at the latter, showing how the rebirth of a property can be a spark to a business or even a community hub.

There is value to seeing properties like the former Metso building in Danville or Rusty Rail in Mifflinburg become something new. The value crosses many lanes.

Beginning Friday and continuing through Monday, The Daily Item is looking at properties in various stages of rehabilitation. With Metso and the gateway strip mall in Selinsgrove, work is ongoing.

Today, we look at Rusty Rail, a finished product and really the model of what transforming an old property can become in our region.

On Monday, we look at Pastor Mark Gittens’ project at the former Bimbo Bakery in Sunbury, a project just getting started but one that presents so much promise and hope for a city and neighborhood.

The people behind these projects understood the nature of what was already here, not what could be here. They appreciated the existing architecture, the history, the location. 

For that, they should be applauded because too many people want something new and flashy.

There is something to that, building from scratch in your own vision. There is also something special about places like the Sunbury Textile Mill, where many talk about what it once was, while more people should be talking about what it can become.

“These are people with local dollars that did this. It’s not a huge project from the state,” Union County Commissioner Preston Boop said of the restoration of Mifflinburg’s Body Company into the Rusty Rail. “These people stepped up, bought a building for sale and repurposed it. My hat’s off to those folks.”

Hat’s off, indeed.

These are no cheap projects. But their impact cannot be measured by dollars alone.

The environmental impact can be great, not only in what it does, but by what it doesn’t do: Reduce the Valley’s green footprint by using undeveloped land for a new build as opposed to rehabbing an existing location.

Gittens’ church project offers the opportunity to become a living, breathing community hub, something lacking in parts of our region.

The Valley is a vibrant place that continues to move forward. But part of that progress can also involve and look at the past and see what it offers moving forward.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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