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New Mixed-Use High-Rise Proposed For Garner Street Lot

by Geoff Rushton

Preliminary plans have been submitted to State College Borough for a proposed new residential and commercial high-rise to be located on the current Garner Street Parking Lot, 132 S. Garner Street.

Developers are considering two phases for the project, but only plans for the first involving the parking lot and former Citizens’ Bank site — bordered by East Beaver Avenue, South Garner Street, Calder Way and Heister Street — have been submitted, borough planning director Ed LeClear said.

The second phase would involve redeveloping the block of East College Avenue between Garner and Heister with a central courtyard adjoining the two phases to form a single campus.

This rendering shows the U-shaped proposed high-rise for the Garner Street Lot. In the foreground are buildings for a potential phase 2 along East College Avenue. Image by Shepley Bulfinch architects / CA Student Living via State College Borough.

While still a long way from potential approval, plans submitted to the borough for the first phase would consolidate five separate lots that make up the Garner Street parking lot property. Those are currently owned by the Hillel Foundation and Friedman Real Estate Group. The new building would be developed by CA Student Living, which is currently building The Rise, a mixed-use high-rise on the 500 block of East College Avenue, and the Friedmans.

Penn State Hillel had been planning a new community center for the portion of the property adjacent to Beaver Avenue. That would be incorporated into the new building.

The proposed high-rise is 13 stories with a total square footage, including exterior space and parking, of 529,387 square feet.

Residential space totaling 258,245 square feet would include 247 units with 824 beds — a mix of studio, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom apartments. The plans also include 16,096 square feet of space for amenities.

The U-shaped building has steps leading up to a retail courtyard in the center and other spaces for outdoor terrace seating. The first two floors on the east and west sides are designated for retail space totaling 33,235 square feet.

At the south end near Beaver Avenue, the first two floors — 17,960 square feet — would be occupied by the Hillel community center.

An underground parking garage with 278 spaces for automobiles and 62 for motorcycles also is included in the plans.

The property is located in the Signature Development area of State College’s Commercial Incentive District. An application for a conditional use permit will be submitted at a later date.

LeClear said the Design and Historic Review Board will review and comment on the plans at its Nov. 28 meeting. Planning Commission will then review the plans and provide input before going on to the planning and zoning office.

Borough council ultimately would need to approve final plans.

“These are preliminary plans and they’re a long way away from a zoning permit,” LeClear said.

If the new building does come to pass, it would join a spate of new high-rises in the borough. In 2016, the long-planned Fraser Centre opened with a Hyatt Place hotel, Target, H&M, Federal Taphouse and residential units. In August, the 12-story Metropolitan at the corner of West College Avenue and South Atherton Street opened to residents and recently announced its commercial tenants.

The 12-story, 140-foot The Rise is under construction and expected to open in 2018, with student apartments and a grocery store. A seven-story mixed use building is under construction at 260 E. Beaver Ave., the former site of Canyon Pizza. Down the street, a similar building has been proposed for the corner of East Beaver Avenue and South Pugh Street.

The Residences at College and Atherton also continues to move through the approval process, receiving a conditional use permit over the summer. The 455,000 square foot building would occupy most of the block of West College Avenue between South Atherton Street and South Burrowes Street.

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