State College Borough Council on Monday unanimously approved a license agreement that will allow a seasonal walkway that will support outdoor dining at Bill Pickle’s Taproom during warm weather months while also improving pedestrian access along South Allen Street.
The “pedlet,” will be in place from spring to fall within the two parking spaces directly in front of the 106 S. Allen St. tavern, connecting to the sidewalk and going around the Pickle’s seasonal outdoor deck. The walkway will be ADA accessible and have a fence along the street side.
Hotel State College & Co., which owns Pickle’s, will be responsible for constructing the pedlet no earlier than April 1 and removing it by Oct. 31. The company will pay a $125 a month license fee for use of the sidewalk as well as a fee to replace lost parking meter revenue. Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said the latter is still being calculated but is likely to be about $15 per day based on actual meter collections.
In 2017, borough council approved a three-year agreement for Pickle’s to have an outdoor dining area extending into the sidewalk from April through the end of October.
Jeff Sorg, CEO of Hotel State College parent company Pat Croce and Company, said that in applying for a new license, the business wanted to address “concerns about walkability,” that had come up with previous iterations of the Pickle’s outdoor dining area, which had been constructed under previous ownership.
“The pedlet is a solution and a growing trend that we’ve been keeping our eye on as owners of other restaurants and hospitality properties,” Sorg said. “We felt it was a really good fit for this location… It provides what we think is a really attractive streetscape and it enhances and promotes walkability of the downtown… It is safe and ADA accessible while also enabling us to provide outdoor dining space.”
As with the deck in previous years, patrons will be required to enter Pickle’s to access the outdoor dining area. There would be no direct access from the pedlet to the deck.
The plan has been met with wide support. State College Transportation Commission unanimously recommended approval last week and the Downtown State College Improvement District endorsed the project. DID Executive Director Lee Anne Jeffries wrote in a letter that the pedlet “has potential to be utilized as a prototype for other establishments, offering a cohesive design throughout downtown.”
Borough staff also recommended approval.
“Pedlets are being used as an effective strategy to support downtown planning goals for greater walkability and more outdoor dining,” Fountaine said, adding that additional outdoor dining is consistent with the goals of the borough’s Downtown Master Plan.
Council members said they found the pedlet addition to be a better approach than previous versions of the Pickle’s outdoor dining area.
“This is a very creative and innovative solution to outdoor dining and the schematics are wonderful,” Councilwoman Katherine Yeaple said. “I think this is a step toward making downtown State College more pedestrian-friendly.”
“Having seen the schematics of this, this new solution … is much more favorable than what we have seen before,” Councilman Evan Myers said. “I think this will be a good addition to the downtown.”
Councilman Peter Marshall said he thinks it will be “an interesting experiment. I don’t see why it won’t work.”
Councilwoman Theresa Lafer said she was not in favor of the previous design for the outdoor dining area but likes the new concept.
“Oddly enough since I did not like the last version of this, I do prefer this,” Lafer said. “I think the idea of using a space over the road for protected pedestrians is much better than trying to squeeze everybody into the space that we did before, which was potentially quite dangerous and really difficult for anybody who was not extremely mobile. I think that properly built this will be a much better option.”