Bellefonte buys National Guard Armory property

Bellefonte has finally landed a sought-after property.

After 10 years of expressed interest, the borough purchased the National Guard Armory property, 1081 Zion Road, Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said Thursday. The borough paid $750,555.01, outbidding Centre County government by nearly $20,000.

Potential plans for the property include relocation of service departments such as Bellefonte Police and Emergency Medical Services, he said. The borough also will try to rent out to a private developer part of the land near the intersection of Zion Road and Parkview Boulevard.

The property is zoned highway commercial, which allows for all retail businesses, hotels, motels, professional offices and supermarkets.

“From early on, we have thought this would be a very nice site for very important public services,” Stewart said of the purchase.

Bellefonte will look to pay for it through a long-term capital funding strategy, likely utilizing a loan. If the borough is able to lease portions of the land, it would help with the repayment, Stewart said, adding that it would be important to get some of the property back on the tax roll.

The state began the sealed-bid process of moving the property in June, holding a preliminary information session. Fair market value for the property is listed at $915,000, according to the most recent appraisal.

Commissioners Chairman Steve Dershem said the county wanted to place a low bid on the land to see if the county would be able to obtain it for government functions. Possible uses had been discussed as a home for a new Centre Crest facility or county transportation offices.

“We looked at it as an opportunity, but we weren’t going to pay more than we thought was reasonable,” Dershem said.

Bellefonte officials will quickly begin assembling the long-term funding strategy, and Borough Council’s building and property committee will evaluate possible uses and a timetable for development.

Stewart said he’s happy they were finally able to get the property and is excited for the opportunity to put it to use.