City to reapply for transportation money

By William Kibler


The state Department of Community and Economic Development and the PennDOT have each turned down the city’s applications for grants to fund a proposed $1.7 million

renovation of the Altoona

Transportation Center.

The city plans to reapply for the DCED grant, which requires a 10% local match, and could reapply for the PennDOT grant, which requires a 30%match , when that program begins accepting applications again, city officials said this week.

The proposed project calls for replacing a variety of deteriorating elements and reconfiguration of the interior to create a “white box” the city hopes would attract institutional or business tenants paying market rates.

Rental income from Amtrak, Greyhound, Amtran and some other tenants has generated only enough to cover routine maintenance and not enough to set aside for periodic capital updates — a problem the renovation could rectify, officials hope.

Potential improvements include:

ö Replacement of the deteriorating glass block and skylight wall along 13th Street with conventional steel frame construction.

ö Replacement of the wood-slat dropped ceiling in the main lobby with a new dropped ceiling.

ö Replacement of the door and window assemblies at the 10th Avenue entrance, the door at the 11th Avenue entrance, the door to the parking garage and various interior doors.

ö Creation of a series of flex spaces that could be easily compartmentalized or opened, depending on their final use, in what is now the main lobby, along with creation of a smaller, more consolidated train and bus passenger lobby area that is closer to the ticket counters.

ö Replacement of floor finishes throughout the complex and of plumbing fixtures, stalls and wall and floor finishes in the restrooms.

ö Replacement of the curved roof and window assemblies on the 10th Avenue pedestrian crossover, along with the roof of the stairway between the crossover and the Amtrak loading platform.

ö Removal of some of the Amtrak platform roof and rehabilitation of the rest of it.

ö Exterior walkway repairs.

The building is actually “not in terrible condition,” although there are “certain areas” that need attention, especially on the 10th Avenue side, said Acting City Manager Omar Strohm after a recent facility tour.

Strohm wasn’t in charge when the city drew up the proposed project.

A pair of temporary tenants has given some “life” to the building, Strohm said.

The Altoona Area Public Library and PA CareerLink are conducting operations there while workers repair flood damage from a broken pipe at the library building, where CareerLink previously kept an office.

The city is not charging rent to either agency.

A CareerLink official, however, recently mentioned the possibility of helping pay the Transportation Center’s utility bills, Strohm said.

“It would be great if they could do that,” Councilman Bruce Kelley said.

Strohm said he will speak to representatives of both organizations about it.

It might make sense to discuss the possibility of the agencies maintaining a permanent presence at the Transportation Center, Kelley said, when asked if that would be feasible.

“That would be kind of cool,” Mayor Matt Pacifico said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.


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