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State College Zoning Issues

In downtown State College, more luxury student housing has been built in recent years, but what kind of impact is it having on the borough’s overall housing market, along with retail development?

That’s a key issue that the State College Borough Council is taking a look at as it updates its zoning issues.

Earlier this year, we told you about how a group of renovated townhomes in State College are providing a new opportunity for affordable housing in the borough.

It’s a topic that has been talked about for decades, especially in attracting more families, and first-time home buyers.

“There’s been many studies done, many studies by Centre County, and the borough itself, on the lack of affordable rental properties.”

On the other end of the rental scale in the borough is the issue of more high-rise and high-density apartment buildings that have gone up downtown in recent years, ones that are aimed at Penn State students.

With monthly rents for even one-bedroom units well over a thousand dollars, many here point to a 2013 zoning amendment that spurred the high-rise development.

But is it development that’s displacing more affordable housing for full-time residents and the area workforce, along with changing the character of the community?

Those questions were raised in a new consultant’s review, as the borough is in the process of reviewing and revising its zoning code that’s expected to shape future development.

Along with housing, the report covers a number of related issues.

It states that most of the State College job growth in recent years is in healthcare, and 90-percent of those working in the borough commute from other locations.

In the past ten years, housing prices in the borough have increased 54 percent, with the average cost for a home now at nearly $335,000.

Also discussed is the impact of the pandemic, especially on the retail market, and the huge influence Penn State continues to have on borough economics.

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