Razing to begin at Arby’s site in State College

mcarroll@centredaily.comMay 29, 2014 

Demolition is set to begin at the former Arby’s site and neighboring properties in downtown State College, clearing the way for a 12-story building that will someday dominate the skyline.

Developer Ara Kervandjian has confirmed that demolition could begin any day to make room for The Metropolitan, a 146-foot building planned at the intersection of South Atherton Street and West College Avenue.

Fencing now surrounds the land, which includes the former Arby’s and Titan Fitness properties, as crews prepare to start work.

Kervandjian said the process is moving forward, and that developers are working through the permitting process for future excavation and construction.

“We’re trying to keep it on track,” he said.

The sidewalks along the site, meanwhile, could be closed for periods of time between Monday and December 2015 for demolition and construction.

Borough Council authorized the closure earlier this month, but asked the project manager to have a protective roof placed over the sidewalk by December this year that would allow the walk to be open at certain times.

The protective covering might mean the sidewalk would only have to be closed during active work times, but those details would have to be worked out with the construction manager, borough officials said.

The borough will require builders to place signage around the location and to clearly designate safe places to cross the road to avoid construction, such as a nearby crosswalk.

Some on council expressed concerns about closing sidewalks at what is a busy intersection for pedestrian traffic, especially for Penn State students walking to campus. But others acknowledged the closure is necessary to facilitate construction there.

“We need a new building there,” Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said. “When we build, we tend to need to block off sidewalks.”

Borough Council last year approved a conditional use permit for the building that opened the door for construction to move forward.

Plans for the building show striking glass panels making up the front corner facing Atherton Street and College Avenue. They highlight plans that call for a mix of retail, office and event space and student and nonstudent housing.

“We see this as a very important place in State College,” Kervandjian previously said. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve put this large glass element here. It will sort of be a lighthouse as you are driving South Atherton Street.”

An open courtyard would be on the third level in the rear of the building, giving it a U-shape above that floor.

Plans call for retail space on the first floor, high-grade office space on the second floor, student housing on the next seven, nonstudent units on the following two floors and nonstudent housing and event space on the top level.

The building would have a multiple-level underground internal parking garage to accommodate all required parking, according to the borough.

The proposed project is designed to be a 205,731-square-foot mixed-use building containing 48,721 square feet of nonresidential space and 157,010 square feet of residential space.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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