Thanks to a February CDT article (and other documents), we know that someone made a plan with Progress Development Group to raze the Garman Theatre well before the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority had legal authority to sell the property.
This pre-empted any public input on the controversial plan and closed the door on competing plans.
Upon learning of this done deal, the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association went to work.
Surely a plan to save an important historic building and revitalize our struggling downtown would trump a plan to raze the building and chill commercial growth.
Initially, the BIDA said the BHCA lacked funding and a clear plan. So in a few short weeks the BHCA consulted with preservation architects and arts facility developers to formulate a plan for a regional arts center.
The BHCA collected thousands of supporters — residents and business owners — as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
Even so, the IDA stood firm in backing a plan that requires the unnecessary demolition of this historic building and lacks public support and funding.
To wit, following the IDA’s final decree the developer stated that if he is not awarded the necessary funding, he will pursue “Plan B” for the properties. We can only guess what this plan might entail.
A few want us to give up. I say this is a textbook example of the value of the appeal process.
The BHCA doesn’t give up on Bellefonte.