Downtown State College: From Traditional to Transitional

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All Penn Staters from alumni to current students probably picture “downtown” the same way: we think of The Corner Room on College Avenue across from the infamous Allen Street Gates, the Student Bookstore flying the Big Ten flags, and the brown, quite drab apartment complexes on every block from High Street to North Atherton. While it may not be so glamorous looking, downtown is the heart of State College. It is tradition and it is home.

But, Penn Staters have certainly noticed that this traditional, old-fashioned feel is changing, and that this change is not stopping any time soon. High rises are popping up all over our little town, beginning with the Fraser Centre in 2016. It houses the Hyatt Place Hotel, The Federal Taphouse, an H&M, luxury condominiums and, of course, our beloved Target.

Next came The Metropolitan on South Atherton and West College Avenue in 2017, which boasts luxurious apartments, a pool and hot tub on the roof, and now an Orange Theory Fitness on the ground floor, which opened with the 2018 fall semester. Apparently, The Metropolitan created a whirlwind for contractors because, just this year, not only did one high rise open up, but both The Edge on Beaver Avenue and The Rise on East College Avenue now call Downtown State College home.

The Rise stole the show this year. Its lucky residents can brag about their in-unit laundry, penthouse suites and outdoor courtyard (which is really indoor, but is made outdoor by a gaping hole all the way to the top of the building) which features a hot tub.

Unlike The Metropolitan, The Rise and The Fraser Centre, The Edge is owned by Associated Realty Property Management. Since 1978, ARPM has managed a large number of the older, traditional apartment complexes in downtown State College. If ARPM put up The Edge to compete with the up-and-coming high rises, what does that mean for the old ARPM complexes? Will they be renovated, or even forgotten, as more high rises are being built up? And yes, more are on the way.

CA Student Living — the developers of The Rise — will be building a 12-story high rise in the empty lot on Garner Street and East Beaver across from Primanti Bros. The new high rise will be two floors commercial use and 10 floors residential. Additionally, Collegiate Development Group will be introducing their style to State College with a high rise directly across from The Metropolitan on South Atherton and West College Avenue. This new complex will cause the closing of downtown staples Zola Wine Bar and California Tortilla.

This leaves Penn Staters with six new high rises to stare up at and wish they were living in while strolling the streets of downtown. It also leaves many wondering: who exactly will be living in these new complexes considering Penn State and downtown have plenty of student housing options already? Who can afford their luxurious style? What will become of the traditional apartment complexes as new high rises continue to take over?

Our little town is turning into a city, and the high rises are becoming a real estate monopoly — which could mean huge monetary changes for Penn State students in the near future.


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