New owner pays $3.7M for City Hall Commons

City Hall Commons — for many years known as the Penn Alto — in downtown Altoona has a new owner.

According to information from the Blair County Recorder of Deeds Office, the property was sold May 8 from City Hall Commons LLC to City Hall Commons PA LLC for $3.7 million.

The address of the purchaser is 775 Bloomfield Ave., Suite 2B, Clifton, N.J.

According to the City Hall Commons office, the contact person is Eli Klein. How­ev­er, he has not re­turned calls from the Mirror seeking comment.

In 2005, the Penn Alto was purchased from a partnership headed by local builder Maurice Lawruk by a group headed by Roderick LaFountain of Lewisberry for $1.6 million.

The name of the building changed several years ago from the Penn Alto Hotel to Penn Alto Apartments. The current name is City Hall Commons, deriving its name from City Hall, which is just across the street.

The building was de­signed by the H.L. Stevens & Co. and constructed in 1921 and was added to the National Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 1989.

Among the tenants, 118 hold Section 8 subsidized housing vouchers, according to Cheryl Johns, executive director of the Altoona Housing Authority, which administers the Section 8 program locally.

The apartments in which those tenants live are subject to inspection by the authority’s Section 8 inspector to ensure they’re up to program standards, Johns said.

When the tenants move, the vouchers go with them, Johns said.

Prior to about eight years ago, the building was a “project-based” Section 8 development, which meant that vouchers held by residents remained with the building, even if tenants moved.