Retail Village Planned for State College, Penn.

Sep. 8--COLLEGE TOWNSHIP -- Local investors trying to put the former Corning Asahi site back into the economy unveiled their plan to the Township Council on Thursday night, describing a "tough project" to work around "a 400,000-square-foot building that we didn't have the ability to move."

The plan depicts the construction of nine retail and office buildings -- and three additional industrial buildings -- around the former Corning plant.

The retail and office structures could include a hotel and restaurant and would be mostly grouped together in what developer Bob Poole called a "lifestyle center," albeit without nearby residential housing.

Poole and two other developers -- Dan Hawbaker and Galen Dreibelbis -- appeared before the council with their sketch plan for the Summit Park Retail Village. The fourth Dale Summit Group partner, Don Devorris, was not present.

The plan depicts about 850,000 square feet of floor space in all divided among 13 buildings, with the largest by far the 400,000 square-foot Corning plant remnant.

Poole told council that 68 percent of the space would be dedicated to industrial use and 32 percent to nonindustrial use. A township zoning change in January allowed for as much as 49 percent nonindustrial use at the site.

The plan calls for a main traffic artery into and out of Summit Park on a public road next to the Centre Daily Times that begins at East College Avenue and continues through to what may eventually be a residential area beyond the Corning site in the Nittany Mountain foothills.

Another principal access road would be Stewart Drive, which is now a dead end off Decibel Road to the west. On the east, the site is bounded by Transfer Road, from which there would also be access, mainly to the industrial buildings.

"We're trying to make sure we don't mix the car usage with the truck usage," Poole said.

The development plan was conceived by Design 3 Architects, a Pittsburgh company that Poole said has special experience in the redevelopment of old industrial sites.

Councilman David Wasson said he "envisioned a little more residential housing," suggesting that some spaces might be suitable for low-income housing.

Dreibelbis said after the meeting that residential and industrial uses don't mix well. Poole said the 3.5-acre southwest corner of the rectangular parcel could be used for apartments or townhouses.

A 15-acre section in the southeast corner has been set aside as a passive recreation area. Hawbaker said Corning buried construction materials there over the years. The state Department of Environmental Protection regards the 15 acres as a closed landfill and forbids new construction on it.

Councilman Dan Klees raised concerns about what he called the lack of an overall theme.

"I don't see anything there that ties it altogether yet," he said. "I really am hoping there's something special to draw tenants and customers and residents to come out to the site."

One company -- K-B Offset Printing Inc.-- has contracted to lease 50,000 square feet of the main industrial building. Another, Penn Centre Logistics, is considering leasing a larger space. Hawbaker said negotiations are under way with two or three other potential tenants.

The Township Council did not take up a concern raised in a letter from Centre Regional Planning Director Bob Crum. Crum said that "continued development of new large retail areas will not generate new dollars for the community, but instead will poach tenants from other commercial areas."