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Bits of Business: Flea market brings Starlite Drive-in back to life

The former site of the Starlite Drive-in Theatre along Benner Pike in College Township is now a flea market.
The former site of the Starlite Drive-in Theatre along Benner Pike in College Township is now a flea market. CDT photo

The best idea is a stolen one.

Jim Forsyth drove CATA buses past the Starlite Drive-in theater in College Township wondering why no one used it.

He thought back to when he lived in Harrisburg, where an unused drive-in was converted to a flea market. In January, he made the phone calls to make it happen.

“I thought if no one else, then why not me?” Forsyth said. “It’s sitting there vacant, and no one is using is it. There is a strong need for a flea market in State College.”

Forsyth and co-owner Scott Lang will open the market April 18, and it will stay open until Oct 18. About 40 vendors have pre-registered for opening, though Forsyth said he hopes the number of vendors doubles.

The flea market will be open only Saturdays and Sundays to start, but will eventually be open on Friday, too.

“We’ll have a farmers market on Fridays, a farmers market and flea market on Saturday and just a flea market on Sundays,” Forsyth said. “It will be a great avenue for food vendors, a great place for antiques people to congregate, swag and sell.”

He said he also hopes to attract “yard salers.”

Vendors will pay $15 for a 20-by-25-foot stall and $20 for the same size corner stall.

ARC Hospitality buys hotel on E. College Ave.

The American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust has paid about $12.5 million for the Hampton Inn off East College Avenue in College Twp. The purchase was part of ARC Hospitality’s $1.8 billion acquisition of Equity Inn Lodging Portfolio’s 116 hotels that total 13,744 rooms in 31 states.

“Nothing has changed on an operational day-to-day basis,” Hampton Inn general manager Ryan Saal said. “We’re very excited to be working with them. It’s obviously a large amount of money they’ve spent to take all these hotels, so we’re excited that they decided to make a great investment.”

The Hampton Inn off Waddle Road in Patton Township was not owned by Equity, so it was not part of the deal.

The acquisition made ARC Hospitality one of the largest owners of select-service hotels in the North American lodging real estate investment trust sector with 122 hotels totaling 14,925 rooms.

We are delighted to announce the acquisition of the Equity Inns portfolio, which represents a transformational event for ARC Hospitality,” Chairman William Kahane said in a statement. “This nationwide portfolio of high-quality, stabilized hotels with strong brand affiliations, geographic diversification and healthy growth dynamics supports our strategy of providing consistent distributions and the potential for capital appreciation to our investors.”

Renovations rejuvenate Fairfield Inn

Changes to the Fairfield Inn and Suites couldn’t be seen from the outside, but there was a lot of rearranging going on inside.

The hotel got an interior facelift from December to March, its first renovation since opening in July 2007.

“We’re a little older, and we don’t want to just keep with the times, but also be leading the hotel market,” Fairfield general manager Adam Jackson said. “There’s simple things we can do like refrigerators in the rooms, which is a convenience that we didn’t have previously and that has turned into a hot topic with the guests now, which they really appreciate and like. We did renovations in our fitness center and changed equipment a little bit. We also tried to do the same thing with our breakfasts to be really health conscious and give guests what they want.”

Renovations were based on the hotel chain’s Generation 4 design.

The lobby has an upgraded look, business center with all-in-one computers and a living area with a fireplace and two flat-screen televisions. Hotel room decor was also upgraded with features like new Serta bedding.

“We’re excited to bring this fresh, new Fairfield product to the market, and we believe it will help business on North Atherton and in the whole community,” Shaner Hotels regional director Jeff Pugh said.