Kranich’s plans new store in Altoona

Courtesy illustration / Kranich’s Jewelers hopes to polish up one of the city’s most prominent vacant properties — a site on Plank Road near Logan Boulevard where Sheetz had a store.

Kranich’s Jewelers hopes to polish up one of the city’s most prominent vacant properties — a site on Plank Road near Logan Boulevard where Sheetz had a store, which has been boarded up for six years.

The city Zoning Hearing Board this week granted setback and buffer variances to allow Kranbros LLC to raze the former store and build a new structure to house the Kranich’s operation currently in Logan Valley Mall — along with two or three retail tenants.

Kranich’s will model the building after its store on North Atherton Street in State College, said Charles Kranich, who attended the hearing with his brother, Michael.

“We’re looking to create the same type of signature location, with a clock tower,” Charles said.

That freestanding North Atherton store “is sort of our prototype,” Michael Kranich told Zoning Board Chairman Mike Halloran. “It’s been well received.”

The Kranich’s operation will occupy about half the space in the proposed 40-by-180-foot Plank Road building, which will sit near the back of the lot, necessitating the setback variance.

The store needs to be 40 feet deep to allow for the kind of display cases Kranich’s prefers and for proper flow of customer traffic, Michael Kranich told Halloran, who asked why a shallower design that didn’t necessitate a setback variance wouldn’t have worked.

The irregular lot shape justifies some of the variances, because it is a hardship not created by the Kranichs, said engineer Ken Beldin of Gwin Dobson & Foreman.

“You’re trying to keep things square within a non-square lot,” said board solicitor Bill Stokan.

The building itself will provide buffering from the residential neighborhood behind the property, according to Beldin.

The parking lot will comprise 44 spaces, about midway between the minimum 29 and maximum 87 specified by the highway business rules in the zoning ordinance, he said.

The Evey family, proprietors of Exit Realty John Hill, owns the property, according to broker/owner Matt Evey.

The Sheetz store opened there in 1991.

Sheetz relocated its operation across Plank Road in 2010.

Mirror Staff Writer Bill Kibler is at 949-7038. Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank contributed to this story.

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