Trout, Ebersole & Groff new downtown branch

This building at 158-160 E. King St. will become a downtown branch office for CPA firm Trout, Ebersole & Groff.

Forty-seven years after leaving downtown for Manheim Township, Trout, Ebersole & Groff is opening a branch office downtown, around the corner from its old address.

Some of the partners in the CPA and business advisory firm have bought 158-160 E. King St. for $2.7 million and will lease it to the firm.

Trout, Ebersole & Groff anticipates spending about $200,000 on cosmetic changes and furnishings, then occupying the branch location before year-end.

“The main driver for us is we’re out of space” at its 1705 Oregon Pike headquarters, said Todd Harrington, managing partner. “We’re over capacity here.”

At the same time, “there’s been a lot of interest internally in having an opportunity to work downtown,” because of center-city’s dramatic resurgence, he said Wednesday.

Trout, Ebersole & Groff envisions relocating 25 to 30 employees permanently to the first two floors, which total 10,000 square feet. Another 10 to 15 would split time between the Oregon Pike and downtown locations.

The firm will seek a tenant for the 5,000-square-foot top floor.

The East King Street building most recently was occupied by Fulton Bank employees, who left in March after Fulton’s East King Street addition was completed.

Trout, Ebersole & Groff got its start downtown in 1929, when Paul Trout went into business. The company left its office in downtown’s Coho Building, 53 N. Duke St., for a Manheim Pike office in 1972, then went to its current 1705 Oregon Pike office in 1986.

The 26,000-square-foot office, where 98 employees work, is a convenient, accessible site for clients and staff alike, said Harrington. But workforce growth necessitated a search for more space.

The East King Street building, acquired from former state Sen. Mike Brubaker and others, stood out for several reasons, according to Harrington. A parking garage is next door. It also has eight on-site spaces. A 2013 renovation replaced the HVAC,  installed a passenger elevator and added a rear-entrance lobby.

“It’s in excellent condition,” said Harrington. “We can more or less move in. For the most part, it’s ready to go.”

Handling the real estate transaction were Rich Wolman and Deepa Balepur of Compass Real Estate and Paul Fulmer of NAI Commercial Partners.

Trout, Ebersole & Groff is one of the county’s largest CPA firms, with 110 employees (including a Mechanicsburg branch office). It anticipates revenue this year of about $17 million.

Though the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, its origins are unclear, Suzanne Stallings, the city’s historic preservation specialist, told LNP last year.

It could be a three-story dwelling built in the 1880s, then remodeled in the 1920s as a commercial building. Or the house could have been razed and a commercial building constructed in the early 1920s.

In any event, the first known commercial tenant was Keplinger Furniture, which opened in 1923 or 1924.

More recently, it was home to Robert N. Lepore Television for decades, until 1996. Next it housed state Department of Revenue offices, then was used for storage, then by Fulton Bank.