Commissioners eye Bellefonte location for possible incubator

A commissioner-led initiative to open a business incubator in the Bellefonte borough saw movement Tuesday when the Board of Commissioners discussed examining a potential site for such a facility.

The board found a site for the proposed incubator in the Mattress World building at 135 S. Spring St., Vice Chairman Mark Higgins said Tuesday. However, before taking any steps forward, they want to be certain the building can be brought up to modern code regulations.

I think as the county’s found out over the last decade, improving the code can sometimes be pretty expensive.

Vice Chairman Mark Higgins

“Bellefonte is a beautiful town,” Higgins said. “It has marvelous buildings that are pretty affordable to purchase. But I think as the county’s found out over the last decade, improving the code can sometimes be pretty expensive.”

In order to thoroughly inspect the building, commissioners discussed two agreements concerning a site assessment and code analysis for the potential site. The first, an agreement between the county and Chilton Designs LLC, involves a site visit to Mattress World relative to structural components and is not to exceed $2,400.

The second agreement, between the county and AP Architects LLC, will perform a code analysis and accessibility assessment on the building and totals $2,500 to include reimbursable expenses. Both agreements will be voted on during the next regular meeting of the commissioners.

Higgins said the board was pleased to have found a building on the market within walking distance of downtown Bellefonte. At this point, the board needs to research how much work it will take to bring the building up to code and if that can be done in sections.

Chairman Michael Pipe said $75,000 was set aside in the amended 2016 budget for business development in Bellefonte, with $60,000 set aside for an incubator project. The agreements will draw down on those funds, with the remaining funds being used to possibly lease or buy an incubator facility.

Higgins said the commissioners were looking at having a 15,000-square-foot incubator facility, and the building totals about 14,000 square feet. Should the county look at purchasing a building, grants are available to reduce the cost, leaving the county with about half the purchase price.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews