Changes possible to East End of State College

While one end of downtown State College is being prepped to hold a 12-story building, the other end could face big changes as well.

The borough’s Planning Commission recently heard a proposal from Alan Schlossberg, of Perkins Eastman Architects, and Jeff Haas, owner of Kildare’s Irish Pub at 538 E. College Ave.

The duo are proposing what they call the Collegiate Housing Overlay, an attempt to add housing incentives to the area. According to Schlossberg, the overlay would foster “development and activity in a way we hope will be beneficial to the borough and the development community.”

According to their presentation, the current commercial zoning promotes “low-quality housing designs.” But for the housing overlay, developers would be required to include high-quality designs, increased amenities and aesthetically pleasing building materials.

Schlossberg said developers could be more motivated to build better designs that include professional housing. That addition provides flexibility with building height, parking requirements and floor area ratios.

Floor area ratios, or FARs, control the total development area of a property. Schlossberg gave the example of owning a 10,000 square-foot area. With an FAR of 5, he would be allowed to develop 5,000 square feet of his property.

The maximum FAR in the current district is 3. According to Schlossberg, the maximum in the proposed overlay will be 6, of which 5 must be developed as residential. If a percentage of space is developed as professional housing, the FAR increases, leading to a maximum building height of eight stories, or 97 feet.

Under the overlay plan, developers also would have flexibility with parking regulations to create wider sidewalks, underground parking and indoor bicycle parking.

Chairman Michael Roeckel said no vote would be taken on the proposal without further consideration and public input.