We don’t have to choose between workforce housing and saving the Garman Theatre.
That is merely how developer Ara Kervandjian has presented it.
Despite the slick publicity, the truth is that better sites exist for workforce housing, including sites with ample space for parking.
What was presented as a done deal is being legally contested, with Kervandjian’s plans on hold while the matter is being sorted out. This gives Bellefonte — and all of us — more time to consider the great importance of revitalizing Bellefonte’s endangered historic treasure.
When you Google Bellefonte, a picture showing the Garman Theatre is about the first thing you see, along with details of its fascinating contributions to Bellefonte’s history.
Revitalizing the Garman as an arts center would help Bellefonte find a new direction away from decline and blight and would give people things to do and see, bringing jobs and hope back into Bellefonte.
If more visionary people step forward with large donations to the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association, maybe even the badly damaged Hotel Do De could be rebuilt as more upscale apartments, bringing more money and excitement into town.
And lots of workforce housing can be built, on suitable lots, as well. Everyone would win.
Maybe Kervandjian could restore the Cadillac Building as workforce housing and build his quota of housing units on one or two of the other suitable sites, with ample parking in the bargain. Then everyone would come out on top — including Kervandjian and our much-needed workforce.
I wish them all well.