Oakwood Hills FAQs

What is the Master Plan of the overall site?

What is the history of this property and Rider Musser Development, LLC?

1997: The Messiah College Board of Trustees purchased the Musser farm located directly across from its West Lisburn entrance. A small portion of this property was subsequently designated as the site of the presidential residence.

2003: The Riders sold their farm to Messiah College. The farm is adjacent to the Musser tract and also runs parallel to major highway, U.S. Route 15.

2014: Based on marketing studies, financial projections, ongoing discussions with the Upper Allen Township, and legal and business counsel, the Messiah College Board of Trustees decided the timing and economic climate was appropriate to move forward with the development of these tracts. Therefore, Messiah College voted to initiate and support a legally, functionally separate and independent for-profit corporation to develop this property. Rider Musser Development, LLC will oversee all the day-to-day operations and decision-making related to the properties’ development and will maintain an "arm’s-length" relationship with the College.

Why did Messiah College establish a for-profit corporation?

Messiah College, upon the advice of legal and financial counselors, determined that this corporate structure would be the most appropriate structure to accomplish several important goals, including creating a mechanism to develop real estate (i.e., there are many laws and regulations regarding who and what type of an organization can develop real estate), and sharing the economic benefits of this endeavor by paying taxes to the community and creating jobs for hundreds of families.  Messiah College wants the "tide" of this project to "lift as many boats as possible."

How will Messiah College and its faculty and students benefit from this venture?

This is an investment opportunity for Messiah College. The success of the investment in Rider Musser Development, LLC will offer return-on-investment yields to Messiah College that will ultimately supplement and support the institution’s future financial health and vitality.

What is the extent of Messiah College's investment in this venture, and what is the source of this money?

Messiah College sets aside approximately 15% of their endowment funds into an alternative investments fund (i.e., investments that are not directly tied to equities and the stock market). This fund has been underutilized of late, and was determined to be appropriate for this type of use. Messiah College will seed this project with an investment of 5-10% of the total cost of the project during the length of the project.

Will any of the land be used for campus housing or expansion?

No. After considering this option, it was decided that the current state of higher education precludes the use of these tracts as a destination for future campus expansion.

Is it possible that these tracts could be sold to a non-local development corporation?

Although Rider Musser Development, LLC is a completely separate entity from Messiah College, it has a vested interest in ensuring that the use of this land is developed in a manner that benefits the College and local community. Maintaining green space; designing premier residential housing; offering convenient business and service options; and incorporating recreational outlets for Mechanicsburg residents is of the utmost importance. Selling the land to a non-local developer would mean losing control of what’s erected on the site, therefore, Rider Musser Development, LLC will do what it can to avoid this option.

When do you plan to break ground on the first phase of the project?

Late 2017, or early 2018. The first phase will include preparing the entire site infrastructure for the development.  This will involve some major renovation to the entrance, which is at the point where the Messiah College presidential residence (Orchard Hill) currently has a driveway to enter and exit.  That driveway, directly across from a major entrance to the Messiah College campus, will be the egress/ingress point for Oakwood Hills.

How long will it take to complete the entire project?

There will be multiple phases, but realistically, 15 to 20 years.

What is the total cost of the project?

The estimated cost of the project is $50 to $100 million.

Who are the target audiences for the apartment units?

We will target individuals who desire premier,  maintenance-free and village-like living.

Can full-time, undergraduate students live in any residential housing at Oakwood Hills?

Messiah College’s internal policy will prevent Oakwood Hills from being considered college-approved housing for any full-time, undergraduate student.