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Shopping Center with Supermarket, Restaurants Planned for Benner Pike

A proposed shopping center would bring a new supermarket and restaurants to Benner Pike near Bellefonte.

Preliminary land development plans for the 15-acre parcel along Benner Pike and Paradise Road in Benner Township were reviewed during Tuesday’s Centre County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The plans, prepared by PennTerra Engineering, include a 53,570-square-foot supermarket with a fuel area, two fast food restaurants of 4,300 and 3,600 square feet, a 2,200-square-foot coffee/fast food restaurant and a 7,200- square-foot medical/office building.

Christopher Schnure, county subdivision and land development planner, said the developers have not specifically said what commercial entities will occupy the buildings.

However, site data notes in the plans reference parking spaces for Giant Direct, Giant Food Stores’ pickup and delivery service. A spokesperson for Giant has not yet responded to a request for comment.

“I think… this is a recognition of the continued growth, the steady growth of the greater Bellefonte area that Bellefonte is now going to have two pretty good sized supermarkets right up close to the town, definitely within the greater Bellefonte region,” Commissioner Mark Higgins said.

Commissioners voted to move a memorandum of understanding for the preliminary plans to next week’s consent agenda for approval. The MOU is a three-party agreement among the developer, township and county for the developer to reimburse Benner Township for the costs associated with review and approval of engineering plans.

The site — located across the street from the Centre County Correctional Facility and immediately south of Bellefonte Lanes — would have three access points: one along Paradise Road and two on Benner Pike. Plans show a new traffic signal at the north end of the property near the bowling alley, but a traffic impact study must still be completed and approved by PennDOT, the township and the developer.

Commissioner Steve Dershem said he is concerned about adding another traffic signal in close proximity to two existing ones at the Rolling Ridge Drive and Rishel Hill/Paradise Road intersections on Benner Pike.

“There’s going to be a lot of traffic engineer folks looking at this proposal to make sure that signal and the traffic flow going into the property and coming out are going to be safe for the Benner Pike,” Schnure said, adding that the county planning commission will not approve final plans without an approved traffic impact study.

In addition to the five buildings, parking and corresponding infrastructure, the plans include two electric vehicle charging stations and sidewalks along Benner Pike and within the shopping center property.

A five-building shopping center is planned for this 15-acre tract along Benner Pike and Paradise Road in Benner Township. Photo by Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com

Because of the number of buildings proposed, the developer must receive preliminary plan approval before submitting a final land development plan.

“This is probably years in the distance in terms of opening but still this is an exciting thing to see for our community,” Board of Commissioners Chair Michael Pipe said.

Last fall, Land of Paradise LLC completed a “fair-market value land transaction” with the commonwealth to acquire the 15-acre tract of formerly untaxed, state-owned land that was part of SCI-Rockview’s property.

Tom Richey, a partner in Land of Paradise LLC, said at the time that an anchor tenant will be announced in 2021 and other outparcels will be filled as the project moves forward.

“We further believe that local residents will be excited to see the businesses which will be will be located on this property,” Richey said.

Vern Squier, president and CEO of the Centre County Industrial Development Corporation and CBICC, said the development would be a “catalyst for years of economic activity [and] hundreds of jobs.”