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Toll Brothers indicates interest in alternative site for housing development

Toll Brothers has sent a letter of intent to Penn State indicating an interest in developing 19 acres along West College Avenue. Its student housing development, The Cottages at State College, which is slated to be built along Whitehall Road, has drawn protests from the community.
Toll Brothers has sent a letter of intent to Penn State indicating an interest in developing 19 acres along West College Avenue. Its student housing development, The Cottages at State College, which is slated to be built along Whitehall Road, has drawn protests from the community. Centre Daily Times, file

Toll Brothers has indicated an interest in potentially developing along West College Avenue.

After evaluating all seven Penn State-owned properties that the Nittany Valley Water Coalition proposed as alternatives for the company’s student housing development, The Cottages at State College — which is slated to be built along Whitehall Road in Ferguson Township — there’s one that Toll Brothers finds interesting.

“We’re not at the point where we’re able to say it’s truly an alternative site and we would develop at this other location instead of the Whitehall site. And that’s really just because of the complicated nature of trying to do something like this,” Toll Brothers Campus Living Managing Director Charles Elliott told the CDT last week.

The 19-acre parcel, located near Penn State’s Blue Golf Course, would require a zoning change to accommodate a mixed-use housing project, said Kelli Hoover, a water coalition member.

“Until the site has same zoning, we really can’t call it an alternative site. But we’re very much willing to keep the discussions going to say: ‘Could it become an alternative site? Yes,’ ” Elliott said.

On Tuesday, Toll Brothers Vice President of Commercial Acquisition and Development Richard Keyser met separately with Penn State representatives and water coalition members to discuss the findings of Toll Brothers’ evaluations, Hoover said.

“Toll Brothers only recently expressed a very preliminary interest, through an unsigned letter of intent, in an alternate site — but the university has not been provided any analyses or other information that would be required as part of our evaluation of any sales agreement,” Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in an email.

No written feasibility studies, zoning inquiries or recommendations or overall analysis of the site have been presented to Penn State, Powers said.

She said the property has no designated purpose at this point in time, and it’s in a “strategic corridor” for potential future development.

“It is important to note that there is still a binding sales agreement in place for the Whitehall Road property,” Powers said, “and Penn State has received no retraction of that agreement from Toll Brothers.”

The water coalition has been protesting the development of the Whitehall Road land for a while — even occupying it for more than three months — citing concerns about potential impacts to water quality.

On Nov. 8, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from residents on the development.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

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