Construction on Fraser Centre in State College may begin in November

Fraser Centre could break ground in November and wrap up within two years if State College officials sign off on modifications to the 250,000-square-foot project on Beaver Avenue and Fraser Street.

Developer Jack Kay on Monday urged the Borough Council to approve those changes, which include height and parking modifications, at its May 20 meeting.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said council will be asked at that meeting to send the changes to the Planning Commission and schedule a public hearing in July. Council could then consider approving the modifications.

Councilman Jim Rosenberger said he was optimistic about the development.

“It won’t happen too fast — there are still a couple chains of command to go through — but I don’t see any deal-breakers. So far we have had a lot of positive responses,” Rosenberger said. “This is something we believe will trigger downtown’s economy.”

The project was approved by Borough Council in 2005, while construction started in the summer of 2011 as a mixed-use facility. Construction was halted after plans for a movie theater failed.

“Fraser Centre has its financing commitments in place and is forging ahead as quickly as possible,” Kay, CEO of Susquehanna Real Estate, said in a news release.

The real estate company is requesting five zoning modifications to the property:

•  the change of use from a theater-anchored project to a hotel;

•  creating a driveway entry at Beaver Avenue for hotel guests and condominium residents;

•  adding 10 feet of height to the building with a new proposed limit of 155 feet and eliminating the restriction on the number of floors within that limit;

•  allowing limited parking use at the facility’s garage for commercial use; and

•  removing the borough’s right to repurchase the site.

Rosenberger said that, given how long the land has been vacant, he is pleased there is movement with the project.

“There have been several false starts on this, and we’re finally at something more promising,” Rosenberger said.

The property will include condominiums, a hotel, and numerous retailers that Kay could not disclose. Kay said the condos would not be leased to students.

Kay said the hotel would occupy about 100,000 square feet with 144 rooms, while the first four floors would house 22 condominiums averaging about 1,500 square feet with four penthouses at more than 3,000 square feet.

Kay said there is an end-of-year deadline to use a $4 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant. He did not say how much the total project would cost.