‘We really want to become the hub of hospitality’
Bellefonte borough, Bellefonte Area Industrial Development Authority and Bellefonte Waterfront Associates LLC have entered into a sales agreement for the waterfront property.
Tom Songer and Mark Morath, co-managing partners of the Bellefonte Waterfront Development Group, presented their proposal for the 4-acre property, along Spring Street, at the borough building Wednesday.
Their vision is to construct a six- or seven-story boutique hotel, located at the corner of High and Dunlap streets, with about 80 guest rooms, meeting and banquet rooms, a balcony and a restaurant; a six- or seven-story building with offices and commercial space on the first floor and one- and two-bedroom condos above; and a parking lot (or potentially a parking garage) between the two buildings.
The property has been vacant since the Bush House Hotel was destroyed by a fire in 2006.
“We’re tremendously excited about the future,” Bellefonte borough Manager Ralph Stewart said.
The architecture on both buildings will complement the historic character of the borough, said Songer, who’s the managing partner of the Torron Group.
“This can really lead us right into a total renaissance of downtown Bellefonte,” he said.
Morath, president and CEO of Hospitality Asset Management Co., said they want the hotel to be a community center.
“We really want to become the hub of hospitality. And I think that corner once again, after all the years that it has been vacant, might just be able to do it,” Morath said.
Morath and Songer will assemble and manage a team to design, construct and operate the project.
And they’re interested in hearing from the community during the design phase because, Songer said, “we want this project to be an integral part of the Bellefonte community.”
Their goal is to submit land development plans to the borough by about Nov. 1. Construction is anticipated to begin on the hotel in spring 2019 and wrap after about nine to 12 months. Construction would then begin on the other building in spring 2020.
A couple years ago, Bellefonte borough spent about $7 million on the Bellefonte waterfront project, which included a walkway along Spring Creek and a flood wall. The borough will retain ownership of that.
Stewart wouldn’t disclose the sale price of the Bellefonte waterfront property, but said it’s pretty close to the amount the borough wanted.