Business Columns & Blogs

Bits of Business: Fraser Centre work set to begin

By the summer of 2016, the downtown State College skyline will reach a new height. That’s when the 155-foot Fraser Centre is due for completion.

Long an empty lot, construction on the multipurpose facility began this week, but developers warned not to expect to see much above the ground before in the next six to eight months.

“Hopefully, the winter is nice to us,” Real Estate Capital Management President Gary Brandeis said. “We’ll try not to drive our schedule harder than it needs to go. The ducks are all lined up in a row now, and it’s ready for us to start.”

Brandeis is the project’s co-developer with Brickbox Development President Dan Deitchman. Both are Penn State alumni.

“That makes this all the more special to us,” Brandeis said.

Brandeis said the $50 million project will “go vertical” in the spring or summer, with 26 to 32 condominiums, 158 hotel rooms and retail stores.

“We’re very excited, because we think this will give people a lot more reasons to come downtown,” Brandeis said. “It’s a game-changer.”

Nittany Mall welcomes change

Ownership isn’t the only thing that has changed at Nittany Mall.

It will also welcome some rearranging and additions.

“It’s an exciting time of the year,” General Manager Polly Welch said. “We have some new places opening soon and some ideas for the holidays.”

The Old State Deli restaurant will open in the first week of November.

Planet Fitness will open by the end of the year and is already taking memberships near its entrance next to Sears. The gym will utilize 18,000 square feet across five storefronts.

Verizon Wireless and Payless ShoeSource moved farther from Sears as part of the project. Verizon opened in a storefront near the mall’s Entrance B, and Payless moved a few storefronts away from Sears.

Welch said a number of stores, such as Can’s Art and Go Games, have opened for the holiday season. She said more stores and entertainment, such as a train for children, will follow in November. The annual Candy Cane Carnival will be held on Nov. 15 to welcome Santa Claus.

Penn State spooky

Pedicab rides just got a little creepy.

Vamos! Lion Chariot owner Todd Miner decided to make tour rides through Penn State scarier for the Halloween season.

Surprised passengers might trip motion sensors in the back of the pedicab, triggering the sounds of horror-movie screams. Or a giant spider could jump out and startle someone.

It’s all part of the holiday spirit, Miner said.

“This is the season to do some of things and to do them big, because we’re in the business of transportainment,” he said. “Last year, we did some haunted tours, and people enjoyed it. With it being Halloween and it getting dark in the evening, it might be a little better for younger kids to go in the daytime.”

Miner will change his focus in late November when he decks out the pedicab with Christmas decorations.

“We have blankets for people now, and you can be sure we’ll have more then,” Miner said.