State College Borough Council OKs plans for Arby’s site

Plans for a 12-story building at the corner of South Atherton Street and West College Avenue cleared a major hurdle Monday.

Borough Council approved a conditional use request for the proposed 146-foot building, which would include retail and commercial space and student and non-student housing.

Developer Ara Kervandjian was seeking setback modifications for the building, set for the former Arby’s site on the edge of downtown State College.

Kervandjian said in an email Tuesday he was pleased with council’s decision.

“There’s lots to do in order to get to the ground-breaking stage,” he said. “But we are committed to forging ahead.”

Kervandjian did not provide a time frame for the project.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said the project will not have to come back before council unless there is some design change that requires another conditional use modification.

The project will still require a land development approval from the Planning Commission and other administrative permits, Fountaine said in an email.

Council voted 5-2 to approve the request Monday. President Don Hahn and Sarah Klinetob voted against the proposal.

Hahn said he has consistently voted against setback modification requests like the one Kervandjian was seeking.

Peter Morris, who voted in favor of the request, congratulated the developers and said he looks forward to the start of construction.

“I hope the construction process goes smoothly,” Morris said. “I hope the new building rises as quickly as these things can be done.”

Designs for the building show large glass windows on the first and second floors, which will contain retail and commercial space. The corner of the building between Atherton Street and College Avenue is made of large glass panels on each floor.

“We see this as a very important place in State College,” Kervandjian previously said. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve put this large glass element here. It will sort of be a lighthouse as you are driving South Atherton Street.”

An open courtyard would be located on the third level in the rear of the building, giving it a U-shape above that floor.

Plans call for retail space on the first floor, high-grade office space on the second floor, student housing on the next seven, non-student units on the following two floors and both non-student housing and event space on the top level.

The building would have a multi-level underground internal parking garage to accommodate all required parking, according to the borough.

The proposed project is designed to be a 205,731 square-foot mixed-use building containing 48,721 square feet of non-residential space and 157,010 square feet of residential space.

Something the building will not have, according to the plans, are balconies attached to apartments.

Hahn has said he would oppose any building plan that called for balconies on high-rise structures.

“We have a recent history of people falling out of balconies,” he previously said. “I’m thinking this is potentially a reasonable public welfare concern.”

A Penn State student died last month and another was injured in separate falls from downtown balconies.