State College

State College moves Allen Street Civic District plan forward

The State College Borough Planning Commission recently approved forwarding a plan for the redevelopment of a portion of South Allen Street coined the Allen Street Civic District.

Proposed earlier this year, the civic district is bordered by South Allen Street, West Foster Avenue, Highland Alley and South Fraser Street. This would also encompass Sidney Friedman Parklet.

Nearly 50 percent of the area is used for parking, alleyways and driveways, former planner Meagan Tuttle told the Planning Commission in September. And 75 percent is tax exempt.

The catalyst for the redevelopment is centered around the property at 224 S. Allen St., commonly known as the former Verizon building, according to the Planning Commission’s report. The commission began examining redevelopment of the building and the area in May when Discovery Space showed renewed interest in relocating to the building.

Two site plans for the redevelopment area have been prepared, the report said. The first focuses on a single redevelopment project on the four adjoining properties along Allen Street — the First National Bank drive-thru, the former Verizon building, Jeramar Plaza and the Allen Street Parking Lot. Redevelopment would include a public plaza along Highland Alley across from Schlow Centre Region Library.

The second plan “assumes that redevelopment activity will be phased, and that partnership with all property owners in the district may not be possible,” the report said, and moves the public plaza to the center of the Allen Street block. This plaza could then act as the focal point of various events throughout the year.

Both concepts feature improvement to pedestrian movement and bike infrastructure, the report said. Cost-wise, the best option for redevelopment lies in public-private partnerships.

The policies and designs governing the redevelopment were based on the Downtown Master Plan and public input, Tuttle said. More than 100 residents and stakeholders gave their opinions over a series of public sessions.

The plan is now before the borough council for public hearing and can be viewed through the borough’s website at www.statecollegepa.us/redevelopmentplan.

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