A proposal for a new hotel in Downtown State College was submitted to the borough earlier this month. The building would also feature condos and commercial space.
Our Zac Kaye is live and spoke with one local Realtor about the proposal and some of the vacant commercial space that already exists in similar buildings downtown. Zac?
Downtown State College looks a lot different now than it did ten years ago. There are now multiple high-rise apartment buildings and hotels, and more are on the way.
The proposed new building will be at the corner of West Beaver Avenue and South Atherton Street, which is currently home to Biolife Plasma Services.
The State College Borough has an ordinance that says that the first floor of these new high-rise buildings must be made available as retail space.
According to the borough, there are tens of thousands of square feet of vacant commercial space between the high rise buildings opened since 2017.
One of those the standard at State College is now in its fourth year of being open and have been unable to fill any of their available space.
Joseph Hurrle is a member of the State College Borough Design Review Board and has worked as a licensed Realtor in the area for decades.
He says there is a lack of marketing of the open space by the developers of these new buildings. He talks about how it’s extremely hard for local businesses to take on the challenge of opening a location downtown.
“The economic profile is changing radically, and it’s not in favor of the local startups. Between the cost per square foot or rent and the other expenses that are often bundled in it’s almost,
it is impossible for a startup idea to cross that threshold and be able to survive.”
He says one of the success stories is the building on Fraser Street, which features a Hotel, Condos, Target, Planet Fitness, none of which are locally owned.
The borough’s redevelopment authority says they have committed $500 thousand dollars over the next two years to assist with getting these unfinished spaces ready for businesses.
The borough also says they are working on elevating marketing and branding so that more businesses know about these open spaces.
Herrle talks about this lack of focus on marketing these spaces.
“It has been witnessed and seen that developers find that they just don’t go back to marketing it. There’s revenues that they concentrate on from the student rentals above that are paying the bills.”