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Construction Under Way on Two Downtown High Rises, Preliminary Work Begins for a Third

by on September 20, 2018 4:32 PM

Changes to the State College landscape continue apace, with work on three new downtown mixed-use developments at various stages.

At the former Garner Street parking lot, site work has been under way since the end of August for a 12-story commercial and residential high-rise. At the corner of East Beaver Avenue and South Pugh Street, demolition on the old CVS building is currently taking place to make way for a seven-story development. And on the 300 block of West College Avenue preliminary work has begun before demolition and construction of a new 12-story building that will take up nearly the entire block between South Atherton and South Burrowes streets.

Garner Street

Plans for the new high-rise on the former Garner Street lot include residential and commercial space, as well as a Penn State Hillel community center. The first two floors are designated for more than 50,000 square feet of commercial and retail and the remaining 10 floors for 258,000 square feet of residential with 247 units totaling 824 beds. An two-level underground parking garage will have space for 280 vehicles and be accessible from Hiester Street, with some of those spaces available for public. 

Total square footage of the development, including exterior space and underground parking, is 529,387 square feet.

The project, which consolidates five parcels, is being developed by CA Ventures -- developers of The Rise, which opened in August at 532 E. College Ave.-- along with property owners the Friedman family and Hillel Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Hillel had been planning a new community center for the portion of the property adjacent to Beaver Avenue. That will be incorporated into the new building with 18,000 square feet on the first two floors of the Beaver Avenue side.

Hillel has long planned to open a new center on the site to serve the estimated 5,000 Jewish students at Penn State. It's new facility will include lounge and study spaces, shared staff and student leadership workspace, flexible event spaces and a private terrace.

“This is not just a building. We’re creating a nerve center to enable Jewish life, in all its varied forms, to thrive across campus and to expand our engagement with the entire Penn State community," said Aaron Kaufman, Penn State Hillel executive director. "Today, when countless opportunities and possibilities are available to students from every direction, Jewish life must be visible, authentic and attractive.” 

Retail space will be located on the first two levels for the rest of the building. A monumental staircase will lead up from Calder Way through the center of the building to a central courtyard and the second level of retail space.

Jonathan Friedman, one of the property owners, said earlier this year that some of the retail areas in the building would be divided into spaces up to 1,200 square feet for smaller, family-owned businesses. The intent for the courtyard area is to have the feel of a "European arcade" or Seattle's Pike Place Market, he said.

Jonathon Barron, an architect from Shepley Bulfinch, said this summer that negotiations had begun with possible businesses for the retail space.

“This an exciting project for the borough for a number of reasons,” Barron said. “First off, it will provide more housing, which is needed. And it will provide students with a centralized housing location, near campus. It will also provide a brand new home for the Hillel, along with lots of new retail space that will benefit everyone in the community. It will also provide more parking downtown, which is needed.” 

The Garner Street Lot is phase one of a potential two-phase project. The second phase would involve redeveloping the block of East College Avenue between Garner and Hiester with the staircase continuing down to College Avenue and adjoining the two phases to form a single campus.

Phase two is not part of the current project and phase one can be built even if phase two never is, developers have said.

The building is projected to be completed in the fall of 2020.

Construction began in late August for a new 12-story high-rise on the site of the former Garner Street parking lot. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

The Icon, 138 E. Beaver Ave.

After preliminary work over the summer, demolition of the former CVS building at 138 E. Beaver Ave. has been ongoing for the past week.

Plans for a new seven-story, mixed-use building at the site were submitted in September 2017 by property owners Pugh Centre LP and WTW Architects. It will have 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the first two floors. The upper five floors will have 55 apartments with a range of units up to five-bedrooms, as well as a fitness center, lounge and laundry area on the second floor.

Two levels of underground parking will have 84 parking spaces.

Construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.

The project is similar to The Edge, which recently opened a block away at 260 E. Beaver Ave. on the former site of Canyon Pizza. It has underground parking, first-floor retail space (tenants have not yet been announced), 40 apartments on the next five levels, and office space on the seventh floor. 

Demolition of the former CVS building at 138 E. Beaver Ave. is under way. A new seven-story mixed-used building will be constructed on the site. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

The Standard, West College Avenue

The sprawling, 455,000 square foot mixed-use development on the 300 block of West College Avenue will consolidate six properties between South Burrowes Street and South Atherton Street.

West College Realty, California Tortilla, Zola Kitchen and Wine Bar and Golden Wok have all closed up shop in advance of demolition. Two houses also will be demolished as part of the project. The Penn State-owned building at the corner of Burrowes and College is not part of the development.

Crews have been on site in September for preliminary work.

The Standard, formerly called The Residences, will be a 12-story, 152-foot high-rise with 48,400 square feet of commercial space on the first two floors. The upper 10 floors will have 243 residential units with apartments ranging from two to five bedrooms. Three levels of underground parking will have 281 spaces.

Plans also show a mid-block crossing from College Avenue to Calder Way that would be open to the public at all times.

The building's exterior look has undergone changes since preliminary plans were submitted in early 2017, with a change to color schemes and the addition of set-backs to address the massive scale.

The conditional use permit required the developer to pay for the creation of an air quality monitoring station after concerns were raised about the downdraft pollution from Penn State's West Campus Steam Plant and how a building of the proposed size could impact pollution at ground level. Developers also will be required to contribute to the cost of a planned pedestrian control project to be built in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's improvement of the Atherton Street corridor.

The Standard is being developed by Landmark Properties, which oversees the 12-story Metropolitan high-rise on the opposite side of Atherton Street and The Station, which is recently opened at Toftrees.

Completion is anticipated by the fall of 2020.

Preliminary work has begun on properties to be demolished on the 300 block of West College Avenue, where a 12-story high-rise will be constructed. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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