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Penn College to Purchase College West Apartments

Responding to a need for more College-owned-and-operated student housing, Pennsylvania College of Technology has agreed to purchase College West Apartments from HFL Corp. of State College.

The sale, which should become final on or before June 7, will increase the number of beds in Penn College’s student-housing program to over 1,000. The Village at Penn College and the Campus View Apartments currently offer 650 beds.

The College West property at 200 Rose St. borders the western edge of Penn College’s main campus and encompasses 8.46 acres, with three separate buildings offering more than 96,000 square feet of housing space.

In the configuration the College intends to use, College West will provide 409 beds for students seeking on-campus housing. According to the March 15 sales agreement, Penn College will pay $7.65 million for the property. The purchase of this property will not impact tuition or fees at Penn College.

“The College is exploring a variety of funding options everything from Fund Balance expenditures to refinancing our bonds,” said Penn College President Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, adding there are sufficient funds in the Fund Balance to pay for the property.

The appraised value of the land, buildings and fixtures is $8.8 million. The difference between the appraised value and the purchase cost is considered a gift to Penn College. Daniel D. Sahakian is president and chief executive officer of HFL Corp., which maintains corporate offices at 477 E. Beaver Ave., State College.

Until the official closing, HFL Corp. maintains responsibility for all contracts and obligations associated with College West.

The College expects to spend approximately $1 million to complete renovations to College West over the next few years, Gilmour said. Among the improvements being planned are a resident check-in facility, fencing, expanded laundry facilities and parking-lot work.

Plans also call for each room to be wired for computer, cable-television and telephone connections, as in The Village and Campus View Apartments, which offer 320 and 330 beds, respectively.

“We are evaluating right now how much of the work we can get done by fall,” Gilmour said.

Nine resident assistants (students who receive intensive training) will live at College West, one on each floor of the three buildings. A full-time Residence Life staff member also will reside at the facility.

As in The Village at Penn College and Campus View Apartments, College police patrols will be conducted during daylight hours, and an officer will be stationed at the facility from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. “Quiet hours” are enforced, and alcohol is prohibited in College-operated housing, ensuring a safe, secure and quiet environment for students.

“There is a significant demand for college-owned-and-operated housing,” Gilmour noted. “Parents and students appreciate the security and attention to meeting students’ needs through programming for residents, enforced quiet times for study and the no-alcohol restriction.”

Lycoming County District Attorney Thomas A. Marino said the security provided by Penn College and its police force will be a boon to safety at College West.

“I’m sure the Penn College Police and the Residence Life Staff will be very attentive to what goes on in those apartments,” Marino said. “I’m relieved to know that the College now will be involved in managing and supervising the College West Apartments.”

Since students already reside at College West, the purchase will not completely satisfy the need for additional student housing, Gilmour acknowledged, adding that the search continues.

As a nonprofit entity, the College will not be required to pay taxes on College West. Taxes levied on the property this year were just over $59,000. Gilmour acknowledged the loss of tax revenue, but said the overall positive economic impact will far exceed the loss of revenue.

College ownership is expected to raise the current student population of the complex 357 to 409. The addition of these 52 students will have significant impact on the local economy and on the College’s ability to recruit more students in the future, Gilmour said.

She is also pleased that area officials have overwhelmingly voiced their support.

“We have every intention of keeping our commitments to the local area by providing programs and services that respond to real needs, as well as impacting the area’s overall economy in a positive way,” she said. “We have a deep understanding of our need to be of value to this community.”

The opportunity to provide more campus-regulated housing for students is good news, said Rep. Brett O. Feese, R-Muncy Township, a member of Penn College’s Corporate Advisory Board.

“We in the Legislature endeavor to keep talented men and women in the employ of state business and industry, and Penn College is a vital tool in training those future workers and linking them to employers right here in Pennsylvania,” Feese said. “By acquiring College West and increasing the likelihood of safe and secure housing as part of students’ overall college experience Penn College continues to make itself even more attractive to the best and brightest within its ever-expanding region.”

Williamsport Mayor Steven W. Cappelli also said the purchase makes good sense.

“The acquisition of College West Apartments by the Pennsylvania College of Technology is a prudent transaction which proactively responds to the College’s ongoing challenge of addressing increasing student enrollments and demands for on-campus housing,” Cappelli said.

The College West property includes 4.96 acres of undeveloped land that will be designated for green space for the time being, Gilmour said.

Two of the three buildings at College West, “Clinton” and “Delaware,” were constructed in 1990. The third, “Juniata,” was built in 1992.

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