More construction could be coming to downtown State College.
Nittany Oil Company Inc., owner of the Nittany Minit Mart and Sunoco gas station at 106 N. Atherton St., is looking to completely demolish the current building to make room for a larger, upgraded convenience store.
Company representatives presented the project plans to the State College Zoning Hearing Board on Tuesday with the hopes of getting approval for a zoning variance that would permit the demolition of the building. The property is located in the commercial incentive zoning district. The board will make a decision at its next meeting on April 24.
"The existing structure of the building just isn't set up to do what we want it to do," architect Adam Fernsler said.
The proposed 3,800-square-foot building, which is about 1,500 square feet larger than the existing structure, would include more retail space, made-to-order food kiosks, a dining area, a coffee island, a "soda cave," ADA-accessible restrooms and more, according to Cory Miller, of Nittany Minit Mart.
The "soda cave" would be a walk-in cooler area where customers could buy cases of soda. If the company obtains a liquor license in the future, the space would become a "beer cave" with six-packs available for purchase, Fernsler said.
He said the upgrades are needed in order for the convenience store to keep up with the local competition, such as Sheetz.
The project also aims to improve the flow of traffic at the site, Miller said. One of the gas pumps would be removed to allow for a larger parking area. Three additional parking spaces would be added, bringing the total to eight.
Bob Myers, of Hawbaker Engineering, addressed some board members' concerns about access to the site. There's currently full vehicle access along the front side of the property on Atherton Street, but Myers said they would like to make separate entrance/exit points to Atherton and College Avenue, with vehicles only permitted to turn right in/out. However, those plans could change because it's a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issue, he said.
Board member Rosalie Bloom-Brooks expressed concerns with losing a "connection to the past" if the existing building, which was built in the 1950s, is torn down. She said she would like to see it be expanded upon rather than be demolished because it's "part of the fabric of this town."
Fernsler said that expanding the current structure would be about 1.5-times more costly than it would be to rebuild. He said the "old, dilapidated" building was not intended for mercantile use, so a new structure is needed to allow for all the upgrades they're planning.