It’s been nearly two years since I wrote that I read State College’s 2016-2023 master plan. I thought at the time that I would share some impressions, but never got around to it. Correcting that now after revisiting the master plan the other day, after wanting to find a sketch of what the intersection of College Avenue and Allen Street is envisioned to look like at the Allen Street Gates (before/after left/right):
The master plan includes a lot more than renderings of specific improvements, but among the renderings and maps it does include, these may be the most significant because they concern the part of Downtown State College that is so “present” in the minds of students, townspeople, alumni, and others when they think of Happy Valley. Rough costs and overview of the conversion to a more beautiful, brick-paved streetscape:
Some of these improvements have already taken place. You’ll notice the new brick-paved sidewalks on Pugh Street and Frasier Street, as well as along a small stretch of Beaver Avenue near Frasier Street. It looks like on-street parking in certain places will be removed to make way for a better pedestrian experience in the heart of town, which I welcome:
State College’s master plan includes a vision for holistic/coherent development of the entire borough, which specific height/building story limits envisioned for different parts of town to help the downtown maintain its historic and human-scale feeling rather than become a claustrophobic place dominated by overly-dense towers.
But there are plenty of places in prime, downtown locations that have nothing approaching even the four-story height/density envisioned by the master plan, and the plan includes concepts for what sort of redevelopment might occur to replace/convert low-slung one story buildings into more beautiful architecture that places more residents downtown and close to Penn State’s campus—which in turn will improve the experience of this central part of town by ensuring it doesn’t become a complete ghost-town after these one-story businesses close.
It’s an impressive master plan, and I hope almost everything in it is realized in practice in the years to come—though I expect much of it to occur over decades rather than just the next few years. We need a mayor, borough council, and planning commission committed to this vision and with the wherewithal to make it a reality.