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Group Set to Close on Bellefonte Waterfront Land

by and on November 25, 2019 5:00 AM
Bellefonte, PA

After years of sitting vacant, the Bellefonte waterfront property is officially about to have a new owner as developers plan to close the deal in December.

Construction of a boutique hotel and parking garage could begin as early as spring.

Developers were scheduled to meet with the Bellefonte Intervalley Chamber of Commerce last week to further discuss plans for the project.

Bellefonte Waterfront Associates — which is led by Torron Group’s Tom Songer II and Hospitality Asset Management Company’s Mark Morath — entered into an agreement with Bellefonte Borough and Bellefonte Area Industrial Development Authority to buy and develop the four acres along Water Street between High and Lamb streets in August 2018. The land is the former home of the historic Bush House, which burned down in 2006. Since then, the land has sat vacant.

“We are moving forward with getting our subdivision and land development plans approved by the Borough of Bellefonte and expect to close on the land during the month of December,” said Songer.

The vision statement for the project says it is hoping to begin construction of the hotel and parking garage in a few months and the retail and condominium building next to Lamb Street in the spring of 2021.

Plans for the project include a promenade along Spring Creek from High to Lamb Street that will serve as a pedestrian walkway and gathering space. Plans also call for the reconstruction of Dunlap Street into a two-way street and will connect High Street to Lamb Street, adjacent to the existing Bellefonte mill race that fed water to the historic Gamble Mill.

Plans show a large green area and some surface parking spots next to Lamb Street, as well as launch sites for canoes and kayaks.

The proposed five-story hotel will include approximately 80 guest rooms, along with meeting and banquet rooms and a restaurant. The hotel will be constructed at High and Dunlap streets with the main entrance on Dunlap Street, where a parking area with a covered patio will be constructed. There will also be a pedestrian entrance from High Street.

The first floor of the hotel will feature registration, a lobby and the restaurant, as well as “back-of-the-house” necessities, such as a kitchen, laundry and offices. The restaurant will face the waterfront. Outdoor café-style seating will surround the restaurant, with a view of the promenade along Spring Creek. Part of the exterior section of the restaurant facing Spring Creek will be covered by a balcony.

The ballroom, which will be on the second floor, will accommodate 250-300 guests for receptions, weddings or meetings. In addition, there will be a balcony on the Spring Creek side of the building.

The group said it intends to create a farm-to-table dining experience, using locally sourced agricultural products along with local craft beers, wines, spirits and ciders, in the restaurant.

The upper floors of the hotel will feature guest rooms with up-to-date amenities befitting a business or leisure guest.

Next to the hotel, there will be a structure that will provide parking, along with 20,000 square feet of commercial and retail space on the first floor of that garage. Hotel guests and visitors will be able to walk from the parking garage into the hotel via a covered bridge. There will be more than 300 parking spaces in the garage. Parking rates will be competitive with the current parking rates in downtown Bellefonte.

On the north side of the parking lot next to Lamb Street, there will be a five-story building with approximately 14,700 square feet of offices and/or retail space. Above the ground floor, there will be four floors of one- and two-bedroom condominium apartments. Each resident will be able to have a parking space in the garage. The condo apartments will vary in size from approximately 1,200 square feet for a two-bedroom apartment to 800 square feet for a one-bedroom unit. There will not be any age restrictions. All of the apartments will be built to a high quality and will be energy efficient, which will result in a maintenance-free lifestyle, according to the developers.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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