Second Retreat at State College project likely to be canceled for economic reasons

jvanderk@centredaily.comAugust 6, 2013 

— While crews water lawns and tend to other final touches that will ready The Retreat on Waupelani Drive for its student tenants, the project’s developer said the second phase of the project likely will not be built.

Wes Rogers, president and CEO of Athens, Ga.-based Landmark Properties, said the main, 587-bedroom project is near completion, but that “we’re probably not going to move forward with the phase-two project.”

He said that, right now, additional student bedrooms don’t make economic sense.

The Retreat II was planned for the vacant space across Waupelani, 3.5 acres behind the Westerly Parkway Plaza. Both are managed by Marx Realty, of New York.

The project’s preliminary plan, reviewed by the borough Planning Commission and Design Review Board in February, showed 124 additional bedrooms in six apartment buildings. At the time, officials expressed concerns about the plan related to parking, driveways and impacts on the shopping center.

Borough planner Anne Messner said her office has not yet received notification from Landmark that it will withdraw the plans. She said, generally, the borough would receive that in the form of a letter.

“Until that time, I’m not going to be able to say what their status is,” she said.

After review, the plans had preliminary conditional approval, and the borough awaited submission of a final land development plan, which it has not yet received.

With more than 3,000 bedrooms set to come online just this month at complexes targeting student tenants, Rogers said the second phase of The Retreat just didn’t make sense. He said a high cost for the land would have resulted in “really, really big rent.”

“We want to see how this new product gets absorbed into the market,” he said of the main Retreat project. “I also want to see if the Toll Brothers deal comes to fruition. That could really have an impact on the market.”

The Horsham-based company presented preliminary information on a complex to house about 1,600 students near the intersection of Whitehall Road and Blue Course Drive to Ferguson Township supervisors last December.

At the time, company representative Charles Elliott said Toll Brothers would begin the formal approval process this year.

Township Manager Mark Kunkle said Monday that his staff has not yet received a land development plan submission, but still expects one.

Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter.

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