The Wait Is Over: Construction Begins on Fraser Centre
The long-awaited Fraser Centre is finally under construction after over 10 years of planning, delays, and development changes.
The construction team began the project on the corner of Fraser Street and Beaver Avenue on October 15 with excavation and below-ground work to relocate utilities, lay the building’s foundation, and build the underground parking area. Project developers hope to begin vertical construction by April, but only if the weather this winter is good enough to continue outside work.
Once completed, the Fraser Centre will feature 60,000 square feet of retail space, a 158-room Hyatt hotel, and 26 to 32 residential condos. The building will stand 155-feet tall, making it the tallest in State College by about 60 feet, developer Gary Brandeis said.
Brandeis is a Penn State alum himself and is excited to be able to bring something new to the Penn State area. “It’s a major step forward for Downtown State College,” Brandeis said. “We’re pretty proud.”
Brandeis bought the property in 2013 and is pleased with the pace. In less than 12 months, the property was approved and developers obtained the necessary permits, finalized hotel agreements, and began construction.
According to borough manager Tom Fountaine, the town first identified the Fraser Centre back in 2003 as a “strategic development site” to bring greater commercial, retail, and residential diversity to downtown. The project is just one part of the Downtown State College Vision and Strategic Plan.
The project was originally under the supervision of Susquehanna Real Estate, but the recent recession caused banks to stop granting loans for projects like the Fraser Centre. After a few years of economic recovery, the project was ready for construction again in 2011, but one of the key tenants pulled out, delaying the building yet again.
We can expect to see the retail parts of the Fraser Centre open around September 2016, with the hotel opening later in the fall. Residents will begin to move into the condos once the majority of the other construction is complete.