Patton Township is bursting at the seams with all sorts of development, but on the other side of town in College Township, business isn't as booming.
The two townships have similar zoning, but national retailers tend to gravitate toward the North Atherton Street area because it's the "hotspot," according to Mark Holdren, senior planner at the Centre Regional Planning Agency. As Patton Township fills up with more development, such as the proposed Patton Crossing and Patton Town Center projects, revitalization along East College Avenue and Benner Pike could be in sight.
"It's all about location, location, location," Holdren said.
In the next few years, Holdren said the township expects to see development at the site of the former Hilltop Mobile Home Park, which is zoned commercial and residential. And College Township is also seeking proposals for a firm to study the area's commercial and industrial zones to see how business could improve, according to township council Chairwoman Carla Stilson.
"Things come and you just don’t know how they’re going to do," she said. "Some things do well and some things don’t and only last a couple years."
Redevelopment is costly, so Stilson said having more national businesses that have the capital to set up shop at the vacant storefronts in College Township would be great for the area. However, as a township resident, she said she wants to see more locally-owned businesses find a home there.
"I would love it if College Township could be a space where local businesses felt like there was affordability and support from their local government to help them start up, take off and get established," Stilson said.
Co-owners Susan McWhirter and Lucy Alvarez chose to open new culinary event center Taste Buds Kitchen on Benner Pike because of its access to Interstate 99, proximity to Bellefonte and affordability.
Alvarez said they looked at locations in Patton Township, but they were "extremely expensive" compared to the space in College Township.
"I still think this side (of town) is not going to be as dead forever — it will get busy, that’s our hope," she said.
There has been a little uptick in business in the area recently. Get Air indoor trampoline park recently moved in next door to the Giant supermarket in the Nittany Commons shopping center, and a Taco Bell is slated to be built on the parking lot of the former Office Depot building, which is at the corner of Benner Pike and an access road off of the street.
The future of the Nittany Mall is also uncertain as anchor stores like Sears and Bon-Ton close. Holdren said that at some point the mall will probably either be redeveloped or some type of retail will take its space. The township isn't sure what's in store for the property, he said.