Price to save Garman facade too high, developer says; BHCA seeks injunction to stop sale

Facing a $500,000 price tag to save the facade, State College developer Ara Kervandjian asked the Bellefonte Historical Architecture Review Board for a demolition order on the Garman Theatre.

He had planned to try to save the facade if it was economically and structurally feasible, but he said the price was too high.

HARB did not take action and tabled the vote to the next meeting because its members didn’t have enough information, borough codes official and HARB member Russell Shuey said. Kervandjian will now send an engineer’s report and sketch plans for the Hotel Do De and Cadillac Building, the other two pieces to his 32-unit workforce housing proposal called Bellefonte Mews.

“HARB did not have enough information because we didn’t have sketches and details of the other buildings,” Shuey said, adding that he expects final action to be taken at the next meeting.

When HARB makes a recommendation, it will be sent to the Borough Council for approval.

But the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association, the other group that was in the race to get the building, isn’t ready to end the fight just yet.

On Monday, the group filed for an injunction to stall Kervandjian’s plans.

The injunction is designed to delay him and his company, Progress Development Group, in carrying out its proposal pending an appeal process.

Kervandjian had been granted until February 2014 to demolish the Garman and neighboring Hotel Do De, but the appeal process would not be completed by then, according to the injunction document.

BHCA President Keith Koch could not say if an appeal is certain, but the group awaits on the decision on the injunction request.

“We will take it a step at a time,” he said. “That’s one step.”

The injunction document also asserts that not all provisions under the Abandoned and Blighted Properties Conservatorship Act were met because Kervandjian does not have all the funding in place. He is looking for Pennsylvania Housing Finance Association tax credits to complete the project.

The Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority took control of the property under the act, and after several hearings and meetings chose Kervandjian’s plan over the regional arts center proposed by the BHCA.

President Judge Thomas King Kistler approved that decision earlier this month, clearing the way for Kervandjian to purchase the property.

In the meantime, the BHCA is still looking to raise money and public awareness for the restoration of the building.

Koch remains in good spirits and said he thinks the BHCA will end up with the building.

“I’ve been optimistic all along,” he said. “Of course we’re optimistic.”

The next steps are dependent on the results of the injunction request, he said.

Though they won’t determine the exact course of action until that decision is made, Koch said they will be ready for whatever comes.

Kervandjian did not return a request for comment Tuesday.