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Bellefonte Waterfront Development Plans Heading for Mediation

Friday, February, 22, 2013

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, known as “Central Pennsylvania’s Victorian Secret,” is seeking mediation in its attempt to redevelop an area along Water Street.  The borough’s manager, Ralph Stewart, spoke to the city council this past Monday evening and stated that mediation was imminent between the owners of the Ham Store property, Richard and Marti Supina, and the borough.  Although the mediation hearing will be nonbinding, everyone believes that negotiations will be successful.  “We’re always holding out hope that we can reach a settlement,” Stewart said.

The Ham Store is the last property the borough needs to purchase in order to go ahead with its plans for redevelopment—plans that will hopefully attract more visitors to the Water Street area.  If mediation fails, a ruling for eminent domain will be given in an appellate court favoring the borough.  Before mediation begins, however, the borough has already begun testing the area in creation of a proposal regarding a flood wall that is to be constructed.  The proposal that is currently being written by the borough must be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection by June of this year in order for construction to begin next year.    

Bellefonte hopes to reimagine the area as a waterfront development by building a boutique hotel, high-rise apartments and a parking area to be used by the two properties.  The Ham Store property owned by the Supinas is the last piece of the puzzle that mediation will hopefully put into place for the town for it to continue its plans for the planned development.  Specifically, the Ham Store property will be the subject of the upcoming mediation proceedings and will be used for the parking area if satisfactory negotiations are reached between the property owners and the borough.    

At present, three developers have given their proposals, as well as estimated completion dates for the project.  As soon as the Ham Store property is available and the area is cleared to begin the construction process, the proposals will be considered by the state Department of Environmental Protection.  Bellefonte hopes that the development will draw tourists and locals to the area, as well as provide additional income and aesthetic appeal for the city