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Ferguson Township Supervisors Approve Plans For Student Housing Complex On West College Ave.

The Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors on Monday night unanimously approved a final land development plan for a six-story student housing complex at the corner of West College Avenue and South Buckhout Street.\

Developer Aspen Heights Partners introduced plans for the 75-foot tall, mixed-use building last year and submitted a final land development plan on June 4.

The first floor of the building, named in plans as Aspen West End, will have 8,676 square feet of commercial and retail space, while the upper five floors will have 96 apartment units — a mix of two- and three-bedroom units with a total of 268 beds.

Two subsurface levels of underground parking will have 159 parking spaces and another six exterior spaces will be located at street level. A variance was granted by the Ferguson Township Zoning Hearing Board in February 2020 to allow parking on the first floor of the building in lieu of some commercial space.

About 1,200 square feet of the ground floor area is located within State College Borough. The State College Planning Commission in January recommended approval of the plan.

Borough staff also accepted a traffic impact study after working with PennDOT and the developer on pedestrian safety improvements at the West College Avenue-South Buckhout Street intersection.

Traffic engineering consultant Chuck Wooster said those included upgraded pedestrian ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, new pavement markings, and new signage.

Vehicles will be able to access the property by turning from either South Buckhout Street or South Butz Street onto Calder Way and then turning onto the alley behind the building.

Project engineer John Sepp, of PennTerra Engineering, said that Calder Way between Buckhout and Butz will remain open for a majority of the construction of the new building and any closures would be short-term, such as for sewer line installation or paving. The traffic control plan has provisions for providing access for adjoining property owners, who also will be given a construction schedule and will be kept informed of any impacts, Sepp said.

The section of Calder Way bordering the property is a right-of-way in public use but is not owned or maintained by the township. As part of the plan approval, Aspen Heights agrees to maintain the road and keep it open.

Under the original conditions of the plan, township staff recommended truck deliveries to the new building be restricted to 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Supervisor Steve Miller suggested that was included to prohibit traffic backups during peak hours as trucks turned into Calder Way. Unloading is not permitted on College Avenue.

Board Chair Laura Dininni, however, said overnight deliveries were inconvenient for both neighboring residents and the businesses that will occupy the commercial portion of the building.

She noted resident complaints about late-night truck traffic at the former O.W. Houts property across the street.

“The problems that we have coming from that are trucks going in there when they’re not supposed to in the middle of the night and making noise,” Dininni said. “The residents around there want that kind of activity limited to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., not 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“This restriction is invasive to the neighbors, and it seems like it causes a problem for goods delivery.”

Supervisors agreed to an amendment that will allow for truck deliveries during business hours, except during peak traffic times of 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.

Four parcels located in Ferguson Township’s Terraced Streetscape District and one partially in State College’s Planned Commercial District will be consolidated into a single 1.136-acre parcel for the project. The lots are owned by local real estate investors Scott and Glenda Yocum.

Texas-based Aspen Heights is also the developer behind recently approved plans for a mixed-use student housing development at the former Hilltop Mobile Home Park site in College Township.

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About the Author

Geoff Rushton (StateCollege.com)

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.

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