Bellefonte waterfront project faces delay over flood wall plan

mmorgan@centredaily.comOctober 9, 2013 

— The Bellefonte waterfront revitalization project is facing another delay, and this one might cut into the 2014 construction season.

Project engineers are now looking at February as a possible time frame to submit a flood wall proposal to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Scott Russell, of the Buchart Horn engineering firm, said at the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority meeting Wednesday.

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart initially wanted a permit submission by August to ensure that it would be returned by early 2014. That timeline was delayed until September or October because officials decided they wanted to work the developer’s concept into the flood wall proposal.

But the IDA still has not chosen a developer.

Russell said design work can’t begin in earnest until the developer is on board.

“We would begin concept development immediately following that decision,” he said.

Though the concepts likely wouldn’t be finalized until March, Russell said they should have enough to submit the proposal by February.

DEP will then spend three to six months reviewing the proposal before construction can begin.

The borough’s vision for the waterfront district includes a restaurant and boutique hotel where the Bush House once stood and a high-rise apartment building next door with parking in-between. The estimated $6 million wall along Spring Creek would alleviate the problem of the land being in a flood plain and create a shoreline area for visitors.

Following the meeting, the IDA went into executive session to continue to talk about the two developer proposals.

One proposal is from State College developer Ara Kervandjian, who is also attempting to take on a workforce housing project elsewhere in downtown Bellefonte. The borough has not released the name of the other potential developer.

In the meantime, the engineers are continuing to work to get the area ready for development.

Russell said they have completed the archaeological resource report and the historical buildings report in the last month. He doesn’t anticipate either to be an issue going forward.

Borough officials hope to negotiate a developer’s agreement by later this month or next month.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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