A design rendering shows the planned building for 734 S. Atherton St. looking west on Atherton Street. Ballina Group Image
Plans for a new residential and commercial building on South Atherton Street at State College are now moving forward after being put on hold last year amid differing interpretations of borough zoning.
The State College Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously recommended approval of the four-story, 45-foot-tall building at 734 S. Atherton St.
The 143,017 gross square foot development will feature 126 one and two bedroom apartments with a total of 195 bedrooms, 28,351 square feet of retail space and an internal parking garage.
It will include properties that currently include a former M&T Bank building and offices of Keller Williams Realty on South Atherton Street and USA Vein Clinic on Logan Avenue, all of which will be demolished.
Construction is expected to begin in late September and be completed in March 2024, according to Tony Fruchtl of project engineer PennTerra.
The developers submitted a preliminary plan for the project last summer, but it was turned down by borough staff due to zoning requirements. The borough and the developers disagreed on the interpretations of the maximum number of residential units and on the calculations of the commercial and residential floor area.
After the denial was appealed, the borough and developers South Atherton Development LLC reached a settlement, the terms of which are consistent with the new plan submission. The number of apartments has decreased from the 144 originally offered and commercial space has increased from the initial 11,000 square feet.
“[The settlement agreement] gave the borough the ability to establish favorable conditions for development rather than risk losing in court and having no control over development,” said Gregory Garthe, senior borough planner.
South Atherton Development LLC is led by Bob Poole and Chris Wunz of State College and Jeff Quinn and Phil Clark of Newton, Connecticut.
The basement and ground floor of the building will have a total of 209 parking spaces, storage space for 48 bicycles and four spaces for commercial tenants (two on each floor). The ground floor will include a delivery and carpool area so vehicles do not park on South Atherton Street, as well as two dual-head electric vehicle charging stations with conduits for additional charging to be added to the ‘coming.
Additional short-term bike racks will be placed outside the building.
The ground floor car park will be accessible from the shared driveway on South Atherton Street, while the basement will be accessible from Logan Avenue. The two levels will be connected by an interior ramp.
Two other commercial spaces will be located on the second floor, as well as an outdoor courtyard in the center of the building with amenity spaces, including a covered area, for residents. The floor also includes three areas for study rooms, community space and other amenities.
Apartments and amenity spaces will comprise the third and fourth floors.
One bedroom apartments will have one bathroom and two bedroom apartments will have two bathrooms.
The building will include a fitness center and a mail and parcel room.
Stone and brick veneers, fiber cement and aluminum composite panels, exterior insulation finishing system accents and aluminum storefronts will be used for the building’s exterior, said architect Jordan Clark. , from Dunmore-based Ballina Group.
Landscaping will include native species recommended by the Borough Arborist for buffer yards and perimeter plantings and decorative landscaping for pedestrian and gathering areas. Landscaping and screens will also be used to shield light from vehicles in the parking structure.
A wide sidewalk in front of the ground floor retail – separated from the main sidewalk along Atherton Street – will feature benches, bins and lighting.
Fruchtl said the development will use LED lights, Energy Star-certified appliances and a high-performance building envelope. It should have an infrastructure for the future installation of solar panels.
Existing CATA bus stops are located near the planned building on both sides of South Atherton Street.
A draft traffic impact study has been submitted to the borough. Once this is approved, the developers will submit the full study.
Fruchtl said the study does not recommend any improvement in offsite traffic.
During construction, no major street or sidewalk closures are anticipated.