State College

State College Borough Council likely to pass Fraser Centre project height increase

Plans to bring the proposed 155-foot Fraser Centre to downtown State College cleared another hurdle Monday.

Borough Council voted to amend certain requirements for obtaining a conditional use permit at its regular meeting that would allow the Fraser Centre project to proceed as planned.

Those revisions include allowing a signature development building to be 155 feet instead of 145, a new curb cut to be placed on Beaver Avenue and parking to be available at an off-site location.

The 5-1 decision perhaps previews how council will vote later this month on the developer’s request for a modification of their conditional use permit for the project.

Council held a public hearing Monday on the request from York-based Susquehanna Real Estate and asked the borough solicitor to provide his opinion to council before a July 15 meeting, when a vote is possible.

The modification request is necessary because the Fraser Centre design has changed drastically since council first approved a conditional use permit for the project in 2008. Once set to include a movie theater as an anchor tenant, it now will feature a 158-room hotel, 26 condominiums, retail space and a restaurant.

If council approves the request later this month, construction should remain on schedule to start in November, developer Jack Kay, president of Susquehanna Real Estate, has said.

The Fraser Centre will be a 250,000-square-foot, mixed-use facility on the corner of West Beaver Avenue and South Fraser Street.

The building’s first two floors will be internal parking, with the second floor also including retail space. The third floor, which will appear as the ground floor from the front of the building facing West Beaver Avenue, will feature the hotel lobby and retail space.

Above that will be a restaurant and hotel space. The next six floors will be hotel rooms, and the top four floors will be privately owned condominiums, according to developers.

Borough officials have said at least three retail stores or restaurants have agreed to lease space, but the names of those entities have not been disclosed.

Council President Don Hahn, the lone member to vote against the amendments Monday, said his primary concern was in allowing the additional height for downtown buildings.

“I think ultimately it’s the height issue,” he said. “I’m somewhat reassured that apparently I’m the only one who has a problem with it. But I still have a problem with it, and that’s why I’m voting against.”

The amendments approved by council only allow buildings to reach 155 feet on certain downtown blocks, including the stretch of Beaver Avenue where the Fraser Centre would stand.

Engineers for the project said they need the additional space to meet the needs of chain retail businesses that will fill the building, and also to provide some leeway in constructing the internal parking.

“We’re not saying we’re going to use the 10 feet, but we’d like the margin to help accommodate it,” Kay said. “We just, given how critical this is, we just want that wiggle room.”