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Progress Slow on Proposed Beaver Avenue Project

by on May 10, 2011 3:04 PM

Little movement has been reported, except, perhaps, in the level of frustration among State College Borough Council members, in the ongoing discussions involving the former Kappa Sigma fraternity house at 254 E. Beaver Ave.

The matter came up again Monday when Vicki Fong, chairwoman of the borough’s Redevelopment Authority, reported during the council work session on proposed alternative uses for the property.

Borough officials have expressed a desire to see something other than an extension of the student-housing high-rise buildings that line what has come to be known as "Beaver Canyon." They favor offices and retail space along with non-student, professional housing at the site.

Representatives of the developer, HFL Corp., while apparently willing to include the office and street-level commercial space, want council approval for more student housing on the upper floors to make the project financially viable, Fong said.

“They keep asking us to change the zoning,” council member Silvi Lawrence said. “They need to give something back to the community, too. I’m really disappointed.”

Council member Theresa Lafer attempted to dispel the notion expressed by the developers that the property is suitable only for high-density student apartments.

“I think there is a misunderstanding about who is willing to live there,” Lafer said. “Do we replace one student-housing proposal with another student-housing proposal and another until we say, 'OK'?”

Also Monday night, Hugh Mose, Centre Area Transportation Authority general manager, presented another in a series of reports — the last of nine, he said — to area municipal governments regarding CATA’s attempt to alleviate its financial crisis.

In addition to enacting what Mose called “a variety of belt-tightening measures,” CATA is requesting a 5 percent increase in contributions from the municipalities it serves. The authority is also seeking municipal approval for a 12-month pilot program to sell exterior advertising space on CATA buses, which, officials estimate, would mean $30,000 in additional revenue annually.

Council members appeared to be amenable to the advertising trial.

Lawrence said ads on buses actually could be “graphically interesting” art, while council President Ronald Filippelli said the advertising might “add to the urban landscape.”

Earlier coverage



Rich Kerstetter is managing editor of StateCollege.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SCeditorial or get news updates via Facebook at http://facebook.com/statecollegecom. Rich can be reached at [email protected] or at (814) 238-6201 Ext. 135.
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