New development, theater planned

A multi-use commercial center with a 12-screen multiplex movie theater has been proposed in Allegheny Township.

Engineering plans show a 31-acre development, which includes a 99-room hotel, a 26,000-square-foot, three-story office building, a 13,000-square-foot retail center and a 6,200-square-foot restaurant, to be built between Convention Center Boulevard and Fox Chase Drive.

The development, called Convention Center Commons, remains in the early planning stages so there’s no timetable, Reynolds Baldwin of Fiore Brothers Management said Friday.

Some trees and brush have been cleared from the hilly site on the south side of Convention Center Boulevard, across from the driveway leading to the Blair County Convention Center.

Baldwin said that negations are ongoing with some potential tenants interested in the site, but none have been signed. Fiore Brothers Management has also posted the property on an online site as available for lease with a to-be-determined occupancy date.

“It is in the early stages, so at this point, we’re just not sure,” Baldwin said.

Engineering plans for the proposed layout of the center have been submitted and will be up for review and advisory comments when the Blair County Planning Commission meets Thursday.

The plans, prepared by Keller Engineers, also will be subject to approval by Allegheny Township supervisors and the Blair County Conservation District.

Developers will also need to secure an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which will evaluate measures to control and manage stormwater and erosion as a result of the development.

Allegheny Township Supervisors Chairman David E. Burchfield Jr. said the proposed development should be attractive because of its proximity to Altoona and to Interstate 99.

Plans indicate the proposed movie theater will be designed with 2,475 seats or approximately 260 seats per viewing area. Plans also show the theater with 619 parking spaces and access to an additional 54 parking spaces at the nearby retail center.

Burchfield said he and fellow supervisors will study the plans and ask township engineer, Chris Dutrow of Stiffler, McGraw & Associates for an evaluation. The project calls for creating nine rain gardens to control stormwater.

In a letter to the township supervisors, Adam Long of Keller Engineers asked for a waiver of the ordinance requiring two access routes for the center. That’s become a typical requirement for any development to ensure emergency responders have an alternative if one route becomes blocked.

While the site has only one access route off Convention Center Boulevard, at Convention Center Drive, Long said the site could be accessed from four other points if necessary.

Burchfield said he’s not sure about that but will consider the waiver because the access road is wide and because chances seem unlikely that the access route would be blocked when emergency responders are trying to reach the center.

“I don’t see both happening at he same time,” Burchfield said.

Other waivers would eliminate an emergency spillway, fencing around the rain gardens, curbing and permit 53 fewer parking spaces than required.

Burchfield said developers are also interested in erecting a sign next to Convention Center Boulevard to identify the center’s tenants. But they suggested putting it on county-owned property, he said, instead of their property as required by township ordinance.

They may be able to work with the county and the convention center authority on a shared sign that could be posted on county property, Burchfield said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.