After being closed for decades, the former Mallard Motel in Philipsburg is being brought back to life.
Planning to rename it the “We Are Inn,” the Romano family officially took ownership of the motel Thursday after being interested in the property for years, Rush Township Supervisor Pat Romano Jr. said. With painter’s tape already lining its mustard yellow doors and windows, Romano is eager to add fresh coats of blue and white paint to the soon-to-be Penn State-themed inn.
“For years, I’ve looked at that place,” Romano said.
After years of looking at the vacant property, Romano said he was finally able to obtain ownership of the former motel after another development deal fell through and said renovating the property has turned into a family project, involving his wife Jennifer and their five kids.
“It will be quite the challenge, but ‘we are inn’ for the long haul,” Romano wrote in an email.
As a Penn State graduate, he said choosing the name was a “no brainer,” but making the decision to take ownership of the property and begin work to renovate the former motel came from spending a lot of time at Penn State events and hearing complaints about “the lack of lodging in the area” at their football game tailgates.
“Driving by every day and seeing this little diamond in the rough sitting empty and deteriorating was really sad when you think about it,” he said. “We’ve been investigating in flips for a decade in the area, so we decided to move on this asset and secure a long term investment.”
Romano said he is most looking forward to having guests stay and return for years to come. With the addition of a restaurant and lounge, he thinks the business will have another “layer of energy” that will attract visitors who might not be staying at the inn.
Sitting vacant for decades, Romano said the renovations will create the biggest challenge to getting up and running; however, he plans to apply for grants to help with funding for repairs.
While Romano said he and his family would like to have the business up and running as soon as possible, they want to take the time to “restore the integrity of the entire property.”
“It’s not out of the question to have the motel and lobby operational in time for the New Year with the food and beverage to follow,” he said.
With the Philipsburg Revitalization Corporation and Moshannon Valley Economic Development Center working to breathe life back into the town, Romano thinks the inn will create another draw to the area, giving potential businesses and investors a place to stay when they visit the area to explore potential opportunities.
“The area will have a much needed place for visitors to stay and enjoy all that our area has to offer,” Romano wrote in an email. “We hope to have a nice place for people to gather and socialize. Ultimately, we believe there will be economic impact as well.”
Romano is also the executive producer on “Shooting Heroin,” a movie filmed in Centre and Clearfield counties last year.
“At the time, I remember driving by the empty building and thinking how valuable it would be for our production,” he said. “We also hosted a film festival and had people from around the world in town, but they had to stay out of town.”
The film will premiere at the Rowland Theatre on Oct. 17, and Romano said the team wishes the inn would be open in time for people to stay there instead of out of town.
“In any event, we will be ready for the next production and other such events,” he said.