State College

Hamilton Square Shopping Center eyes expansion

A plan 10 years in the making to expand Hamilton Square Shopping Center could break ground this fall.

Going vertical, however, is a matter of possible tenants finalizing deals with Trombley Real Estate to do business with University Park Plaza Corp., which owns the property at 224 W. Hamilton Ave.

“That’s our goal, and we’re still putting finishing touches on conversations with several tenants to get things finalized,” UPPC vice president Rich Francke said. “We won’t build it on speculation. We need tenants to sign on the dotted line.”

In 2005 UPPC, Francke said, drew up plans for the 15,092-square-foot expansion that would connect to Bastian Tire and Auto Center. The borough approved the expansion in 2008, approved modified plans in 2010 and rerecorded the plans again this spring in anticipation of being able to build.

Francke declined to identify the potential clients.

“We have had a lot of discussions at this point, and the only thing I can say is (the conversations) range from hospitality to retail to service. We want a nice diversification that complements what Hamilton Square already has. It’s been here since the late ’50s, and we’ve been fortunate to have stable, long-term tenants. We want more that come in and complement, but don’t compete with them.”

Ed LeClear, the borough’s planning and community development director, said there aren’t many restrictions on what could go into the plaza.

“Really any commercial use (can go in) with the exception of an adult use or telecomm facility, and there are some exceptions for a motor vehicle-oriented business,” LeClear said. “... We don’t differentiate commercial uses in the borough with the exception of adult, like an adult book store. If it’s a commercial use we pretty much don’t more finely regulate that.”

UPPC, Francke said, wants to have more than 50 percent of its space filled before building the expansion. Rent would be $17.50 per square foot.

The building could house one to six tenants. The smallest possible space for a tenant, according to plans, is 1,792 square feet. If one tenant leased the whole building, it would operate in about 11,778 square feet.

“We feel once it comes out of the ground we’ll get an onslaught of people that want to be a part of this,” Francke said. “At that point we might have to say no to some people if it’s full.”