Discovery Space to move to larger location

Discovery Space exhibit manager Margaret Roof talks about the interactive science museum’s new location on North Atherton Street. The museum will triple in size when it moves by September.
Discovery Space exhibit manager Margaret Roof talks about the interactive science museum’s new location on North Atherton Street. The museum will triple in size when it moves by September. psheehan@centredaily.com

Discovery Space, 112 W. Foster Ave. in State College, will go through a growth spurt during the summer.

The interactive science museum will almost triple in size when it moves to 1224 N. Atherton St. by September. Interim Executive Director Michele Crowl said she expects the downtown location to close on Aug. 27.

Renovations are set to begin in April. The move, meanwhile, will occur in phases during the summer.

“We will soon begin creating a plan for moving forward with renovations and a large part of that will be inviting the public in to help us,” Crowl said in an email. “We have had people offer their expertise already, and we look forward to growing that number.”

The new space, the former home of Keystone Church, features a large front room that will hold the main exhibit gallery. Office and meeting space will be in the back, while the side room will hold a classroom. Crowl said the larger space will allow the museum to take on additional classes and programs. In the downtown location, which opened in 2011, the space began to be maxed out in terms of capacity.

The lease is for five years. Crowl credited HFL Corporation, which owns the property, for working with the Discovery Space to ease the transition.

The property also previously housed Commercial Printing and Just Cabinets, among others.

“Discovery Space wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of the State College borough and everyone who lives in it,” Crowl said. “They have supported our mission from day one and have allowed us to expand as much as possible using the park beside the museum and meeting rooms in the municipal building. Even the land on the west side of our building, owned by the school district, has been turned into our garden space. We feel really fortunate.”

Valley Vista Sheetz to reopen after renovations

The Sheetz store on Valley Vista Drive in Patton Township is scheduled to reopen Thursday after renovations during the winter, including a redesigned interior and gas operations. The store closed in November to undergo construction.

Brian Dinges, the company’s real estate site selector, said the store will carry beer. It will be followed by the proposed Patton Town Center Sheetz location, projected to open in late August, in selling the product.

At the Valley Vista store, the former structure was razed to make way for a larger building set back from the road. But with the revamp, the number of gas pumps will decrease from 18 to 12.

“It’s a completely new store,” Dinges said in an email. “We scraped all the old improvements and rebuilt the store and gas operations.”

The redesign is part of a plan to add 40 new or rebuilt stores in 2017. Sheetz, which operates more than 540 locations throughout six states, projects to operate more than 600 stores during the fiscal year 2018. The privately-owned Altoona company boasts more than $5.6 billion in yearly sales.

The Valley Vista store was redesigned to fall in line with that trend, said Dinges, who cited functionality and brand consistency in making the move.

“Excited about the new store,” he said. “ It will be a vastly needed upgrade to serve our loyal customers.”

Second escape room to open in State College area

After having zero escape rooms less than a year ago, the State College area has doubled its bounty in a matter of months.

Escape Artist Centre County, 2290 E. College Ave., is projected to open in early May, co-founder Brian Becker Jr. said. It follows IQ Escape State College, which opened in March.

The location will feature four themed rooms, including a Sherlock Holmes-themed caper, an ancient Egyptian escapade, a “Silence of the Lambs”-esque psychological thriller and a pirate treasure hunt. The business replaces Thrive Fitness Studio, which closed in September.

The games are designed by Hungarian firm MazeBase, which creates games for locations around the world.

“There’s something for everyone’s taste,” Becker said.

So why the rise in the State College area? Chalk it up to the growing popularity of the games, which task players with deciphering clues to solve puzzles or escape the room in typically less than an hour. First popularized in Japan, escape rooms are based off of video or online games such as Myst and Crimson Room. It’s life imitating art at its most zany. Becker, 31, and his father fell in love with the games after playing one about two years ago.

He said he expects to hire about 10 employees. The central Pennsylvania native added he plans to offer discounts to students and military, and the business will donate a portion of proceeds to one chosen organization per month.

“You’ll have fun but also be giving back as well,” he said.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Becker. said customers will be able to eventually book through a website, currently in development, or by getting in contact via Escape Artist’s Facebook page. Bookings will become available near the end of April, he added, though the room will also accept walk-ins.

Northland Center restaurant closes

Authentic China Wok, 279 Northland Center in Ferguson Township, closed in March after the lease wasn’t renewed, according to employees of a neighboring business. The owners could not be reached for comment.

According to the employees of a non-affiliated, neighboring business, the owners are looking to find another, more affordable location within the State College area.

The restaurant was registered as a business corporation in 2010, according to state documents.

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy