Developer Breaks Ground for Apartment Complex on Former Hilltop … –

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A design rendering shows Aspen East Penn, a two-building apartment complex being constructed at 250 and 350 Squirrel Drive in College Township. Image provided
A Texas-based developer has broken ground for an apartment complex primarily geared toward students on the former Hilltop Mobile Home Park site in College Township, according to a news release.
Aspen Heights Partners is constructing Aspen East Penn, two four-story buildings at 250 and 350 Squirrel Drive which will include 262 apartments ranging from one- to five-bedroom units with a total of 651 beds.
The northern building will be mixed-use, with 24,299 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and the upper four floors housing a total of 114 apartments. To the south, the other building will have four floors with 148 units.
An agreement with the township stipulates that 28 one-bedroom units will be designated as workforce housing for at least 30 years.
Construction is expected to be completed in 2023.
“Squirrel Drive and surrounding State College is a budding market,” Aspen Heights Partners Division President David Helfrich. “At Aspen, we strive to provide our residents with exactly what they need to live to their fullest potential, and Aspen East Penn will do just that. The property will offer students a quality, off-campus community and supply the area with more affordable housing through its workforce options.” 
The complex’s indoor and outdoor amenities include a resort-style pool, courtyard and outdoor terrace.
It also will offer a private, on-site shuttle on weekends to and from the local bars and restaurants.
Montoursville-based Welteroth Property Group, which originally purchased and consolidated multiple parcels at the site, retains ownership of the retail portion of the property and will handle leasing of the residential units.
College Township Council approved plans for the project in May following months of discussions, reviews and adjustments. After land development plans were submitted in November, neighboring residents, township staff and council members raised a variety of issues related to traffic, water pressure, lighting, sight-lines into Centre Hills Village residences, noise and impacts on the adjacent Thompson Woods Preserve.
Council, staff and the developers, with public input, worked through a series of conditions to address the issues.
Among those is a memorandum of agreement with the College Township Water Authority for Aspen Heights to fund $435,000 of $570,000 in water system improvements not only for the development but also for the surrounding area. 
Aspen Heights also agreed to contribute $50,000 toward traffic calming on Oak Ridge Avenue if such measures are approved by the Local Traffic Advisory Committee. If not, those funds will be used as directed by council for other traffic and pedestrian controls.
The company will contribute $100,000 toward the future addition of a right turn lane from Squirrel Drive onto East College Avenue and will be responsible for repairing any damage to Squirrel Drive resulting from construction.
As a result of a waiver for a new sidewalk on the south side of East College Avenue adjacent to the Aspen Heights property, Aspen Heights will construct missing sidewalk connections on the north side of College Avenue, from WR Hickey to the Hilton Garden Inn and from the Hilton to Puddintown Road.
Aspen Heights also will contribute $75,000 toward the future construction of a multi-use path from the north side of College Avenue to the Penn State campus. The location of that path is still to be determined.
A total of 6.67 acres will be dedicated as parkland/open space: 4.73 acres onsite and a 1.94 acre parcel along East Branch Road that is also owned by Welteroth’s 1275 East Pennsylvania Ave. 1 LP.
Addressing concerns about the impact on the neighboring Thompson Woods Preserve, Aspen Heights will install a new, 1,200-foot long fence as well as new landscaping to discourage climbing over it. The developer will be responsible for maintaining it.
In addition to a 300-foot buffer yard between the rear of the property and Oak Ridge Avenue residences, Aspen Heights will add 29 evergreen trees to provide a further shield.
“As a resident immediately adjacent to this, am I delighted that there’s a student housing development? Not especially, but I will say that if it has to be that I feel like we kind of lucked out with Aspen Heights in a sense that they and their team really stepped up,” College Township Councilman Paul Takac said in May.
Aspen Heights has another student housing development in the works for the Centre Region.
In June, Ferguson Township Supervisors approved plans for a six-story building labeled Aspen West End at the corner of West College Avenue and South Buckhout Street.
That building will have 8,676 square feet of commercial and retail space on the first floor, while the upper five floors will have 96 apartment units — a mix of two- and three-bedroom units with a total of 268 beds.
“Aspen East Penn is our first project in this market, but certainly not our last,” Helfrich said. “We’ve been working closely with State College as we plant our flag in the community and we look forward to what the future holds here for Aspen Heights.”
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