Centre Foundation has withdrawn its application to turn South Allen Street into a pedestrian plaza for six weeks this summer.
State College Borough Council was slated to vote on the issue Monday, but Centre Foundation and the Downtown State College Improvement District said in a press release Thursday that the project needed more community input.
The initial plan, with council approval, would have transformed the 100 block of South Allen (between College and Beaver avenues) into a pedestrian plaza — with seating, landscaping, a play area for children and a performance stage — from May 29 until the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in July.
"Downtown State College is a special place in our community. As the nexus of town and gown, it showcases the atmosphere that makes our town beloved by so many residents," the press release said. "That is what enticed the Centre Foundation to propose transforming Allen Street into a temporary pedestrian plaza this summer.
"Initial outreach and conversations with business leaders and community members demonstrated a great deal of enthusiasm. However, we have determined that at this time the project needs more community engagement to implement successfully. Therefore, Centre Foundation has withdrawn the street closure application. Together, we look forward to continued collaboration with the State College borough, downtown State College and other community groups on projects that will enhance downtown State College and the entire community."
And businesses' reactions to the idea were mixed when asked about it earlier this week.
"Hate the idea," said Mike Albright, who's been the manager "forever" at Woodrings Floral Gardens.
He said anytime Allen Street is closed, for any reason, "it's a detriment to us."
Jay Goldman, who's worked at Rapid Transit Sports for 22 years, said the closure would have a negative effect on the business. The store draws people from out of town, and when the street is closed, Goldman said, they perceive that there's nowhere to park — even though Rapid Transit validates parking in the garages.
Additionally, the store has "a lot" of elderly customers who need to be dropped off out front of the store, he said.
Joe Shulman, CEO of Hotel State College (which operates Bill Pickle's Taproom, Zeno's Pub and The Corner Room, among others), said he's "on board" to try something that could change the downtown landscape a bit.
He said an Allen Street closure could help improve the economy in the borough, saying that most retailers would agree that sales have been dwindling over the past four or five years during the slow times when the students aren't around.
"I feel that if we can do a temporary closure of that block and show people that we can have family-friendly events down here, maybe some bands playing, and create more of a festive destination, I think we have more strength as a community to gather people downtown," Shulman said.
There would be challenges, like receiving deliveries, but he said he could envision creating a parklet where the businesses encroach more toward the street.
"Some of us are looking toward long-term goals of having that potentially closed, we gotta make sure we're doing it right during this test period so ... I'd rather postpone this if the parties that are organizing aren't buttoned up to begin with. ... Because I think we may only have one chance," Shulman said.