At the end of 2014, Fourth Economy in partnership with Pfaffmann and Associates and Fourth River Development Company, completed a downtown housing market study and redevelopment plan for the City of Altoona in central Pennsylvania. This is another action plan being fully implemented by local stakeholders. Several buildings were targeted as part of this study for redevelopment into market rate urban style apartments, condominiums and destination retail. Programmatic and financing strategies were also identified. Here are some updates since the report was released:
- Two high value downtown buildings have been redeveloped resulting in the development of 12 new market rental units.
- Local investors purchased the former Winter’s Music building on 11th avenue and are converting the building into retail space (possibly brew pub) on the first floor, office/dance studios on mezzanine and third floor and loft style apartment on the 4th floor
- Local investors are investigating the possibility of restoring the former Elizabeth apartments to create 20 new market rate apartments in the “Elm Street” district of the City.
- The Altoona Development Group, LLC purchased the three-story Penn Building and construction will commence this summer to convert the basement, second and third floors into classrooms, engineering labs, faculty and student spaces to support the growth of the Penn State Downtown campus.
- Local investors are finalizing their due diligence and structuring financing for support the construction of a 80 unit “Suites and Inn” lodging property along the chestnut Avenue corridor in downtown
- Green Avenue Properties, LLC acquired the former office building associated with the former Standard Supply Company and has commenced on the renovations of that property to support one new market rate apartment along Margaret Avenue.
- A new mini-grant façade rehabilitation program has been established by Greater Altoona Economic Development Corporation to support ongoing building investment targeting the downtown area.
- A LERTA District has been established encompassing the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods as a means to incentivized future improvements including commercial, industrial and residential. The LERTA was recommended in the Strategy as a short-term implementation recommendation.
From planning to action – that is what it is all about. We will continue to follow the reinvention of downtown Altoona and many third class cities across the country – They are in many ways the next fourth economy frontier!