Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority picks preliminary flood wall design

The Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority voted to move forward with a design for the waterfront redevelopment project flood wall, but it will need some fine tuning before it’s ready to be submitted.

The chosen concept utilizes the developable space near the High Street portion of the land along Spring Creek and locates the required floodable space near the Lamb Street side. The developable plot of land is about 115,000 square feet in this proposal.

Officials previously wanted to choose a developer before moving forward with a design, but as talks are still ongoing, the IDA decided to push along the lengthy permitting process with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Buchart Horn Engineer Scott Russell said that specific intricacies are hard to design without a developer, but he tried to maximize the available space that would be usable for multiple proposals.

“Without either one of those groups on board, we’re trying to get to a point that it’s the least impact or works the best with the proposed future plan,” he said.

The approximately $6 million flood wall will likely include walking paths and additional space by the creek.

The borough’s vision when they purchased the three tracts of land was to build the wall and package the land to a developer to build two buildings including apartments, retail space and a boutique hotel with parking to satisfy both.

Two developers remain in the running, including the newly incorporated Waterfront Development Group and Progress Development Group. PDG’s Ara Kervandjian also plans to develop the Garman Theatre, Hotel Do De and Cadillac Building in downtown Bellefonte to create 32 workforce housing apartment units.

Talks with the developers are ongoing, and the IDA has taken no action to choose between the two.

Delays have been a challenge for the IDA to this point.

Borough officials originally wanted to submit the plans in August to ensure that they would be returned by the construction season in the spring of this year. The review process could take up to six months.

Under the circumstances, the IDA agreed that maximizing the developable land would be the best move.

IDA member Gregory Wendt said that, especially with the requirement for 20 percent green space on the property, the authority need to get as much land as possible to the developer.

The green space can be incorporated into the design, but it could cut into the land somewhat.

“Whatever we’re looking at, we have to realize that there’s 20 percent gone for the developer,” he said, “so I think maximizing the space is a good idea.”

Buchart Horn will now take the plans and further refine them before bringing them back to the IDA for additional action.