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New Developer Tells State College Board Fraser Centre Will Happen

by on March 26, 2014 12:06 PM

The new developer for the long anticipated Fraser Centre says the project will happen despite years of delays.

Gary Brandeis of Real Estate Capital Management is the new developer and owner of the site on South Fraser Street. He took over the property in October and says the now vacant lot will be transformed into hotel, retail and residential space.

Brandeis and a team of designers discussed the project Wednesday before the borough's Design Review Board. The team is also slated to offer a presentation Thursday before the borough's Planning Commission.

"We're ready to get started. We're ready to break ground. We're ready to start construction," says Brandeis.

The planned structure will be 153-feet at its highest point with a hotel, restaurant, retail space and owner occupied condominiums. Brandeis says negotiations are underway with a hotel chain as well as national and international "modern" retailers.

One possible concept is a "food hall," or food court, where the public could purchase food from food chains and dine in an open, social environment. If that concept is pursued, Brandeis says the offerings would not be old-fashioned fast food, but establishments that offer fresh, organic food.

The building will have a parking garage mostly for internal use. Developers also have a lease with the borough for the Fraser Street parking garage.

"It's financially feasible for us to build this with the uses we are going to have inside of it," Brandeis says. "It's going to add a significant amount of life to the street."

The future site of the Fraser Centre at South Frazer Street and West Beaver Avenue was previously the site of Borough Hall, a parking lot and office building.

The 266,000 square-foot structure, which has been in the works since 2008, will include roughly 182,000 square-feet of commercial space and about 53,000 square-feet of residential space.

Previous developers, Susquehanna Real Estate, had similar plans for the site. It was expected to be complete last May. But the ambitious project never made it off the ground.

Board member Kirk Dimond suggested developers consider making the rooftops "green" in hopes it could help create a trend for State College.

The new structure is expected to be one of the most energy efficient and "green" buildings in State College due to the large amount of glass used for the exterior and installation of modern systems for things like heating, cooling and air conditioning, Brandeis says.

The hotel will also use an ozone laundry system, which operates with cold water, which Brandeis says will cut energy costs by 40 percent.

Board chairman Richard Devon also encouraged designers to include additional lighting in the areas of Calder Way and Miller Alley noting the increase in reports of sexual assaults in the borough and on Penn State's campus.

"Women get raped in dark places in State College," Devon says.

To view renderings of the proposed project, click HERE.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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