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Conditional Use Permit Approved For Proposed Garner Street Lot High-Rise

by Geoff Rushton

A proposed mixed-use high-rise development on the site of the Garner Street Parking Lot in downtown State College moved forward Monday night as borough council approved a conditional use permit for the project.

The 12-story, 145-feet tall building would include residential and commercial space, as well as a Penn State Hillel community center. The first two floors designated for more than 30,000 square feet of commercial and retail and the remaining 10 floors for 258,000 square feet of residential with 247 units totaling 824 beds.

An underground parking garage will have space for 280 vehicles and be accessible from Heister Street.

A public hearing was held on Jan. 8 for the conditional use permit.

“I think all the things this council was concerned about and the public talked about are in this decision by the solicitor,” Council President Evan Myers said before the approval vote.

Conditions included a landscape plan to maximize sidewalk width, having a full-time resident manager, that street-facing windows be non-operable, amenities that would prevent the throwing of objects off the roof, no balconies, an increase in the number of bike racks, more identifiable delineation of space for delivery vehicles, and a traffic impact study that includes concerns about pedestrians crossing Garner Street and on the sidewalks.

Council members on Monday also asked for the addition of a green roof to be included for consideration and review by architectural staff and for specific placement of ADA accessibility near a grand staircase that will lead from Calder Way to an open central courtyard

The permit sets forth the conditions developers need to meet as they work toward final land development plans, which would ultimately require council’s approval.

The project is being developed by CA Ventures — developers of The Rise, which is under construction at 532 E. College Ave.– along with property owners the Friedman family and Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. 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 with 19,000 square feet on the first two floors of the Beaver Avenue side.

The Garner Street Lot is phase one of a potential two-phase project. The second phase would involve redeveloping the block of East College Avenue between Garner and Heister with the staircase continuing down to College Avenue and adjoining the two phases to form a single campus.

Phase two is not part of the current application and phase one can be built even if phase two never is, developers have said.

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