The former Sears Auto Center at 183 Shiloh Road in College Township has been vacant since December 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton | StateCollege.com
A regional chain of tire and auto care stores is looking to breathe new life into the former Sears Auto Center next to the Nittany Mall.
Based in Bloomsburg Steve Shannon Tire and Auto and mall owner Nittany Center Realty recently sought College Township’s approval to subdivide the lot at 183 Shiloh Road, where Sears Auto operated from 1998 until it closed in December 2019.
Steve Shannon has 31 locations in Pennsylvania and New York.
According to the subdivision proposal submitted by PennTerra Engineering, the existing Shiloh Road building would be updated to include a 3,310 square foot customer and sales area, nine service bays and a 3,430 square foot product storage area. It would have 44 parking spaces.
The overall Nittany Mall property is currently subdivided into four lots under separate ownership: the main mall, Rural King, McDonald’s and the old Macy’s where a casino is offered. The requested subdivision would subdivide the 1,284-acre former Sears Auto property from the mall’s main lot.
Steve Shannon would also be added to the easements, covenants and restrictions agreement that binds each of the lots for things like shared utilities, stormwater management and road access and maintenance.
At its June 21 meeting, the College Township Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the township council approve the subdivision, but a proposed waiver from the requirements of the College’s sidewalk ordinance has yet to be determined. canton.
The ordinance requires sidewalks around the perimeter of the two lots totaling 4,635 linear square feet on Benner Pike, East College Avenue and Shiloh Road, which PennTerra said would cost $185,400, assuming sidewalks only and no other work .
Rather, the variance application proposed a “reasonable amount” of sidewalk based on the area of the proposed lot relative to the Nittany Mall site, similar to what rural king was granted during the subdivision of its lot in 2020.
PennTerra engineer Mark Toretti said he looked at several options and proposed 1,160 feet of sidewalk between the store and Shiloh Road and along Shiloh to the sidewalk built by Rural King, as it would benefit the tire store and would provide perimeter connections.
“It’s a good chunk for a 1.2 acre lot,” Toretti said.
This plan would also require a waiver to reduce the width of the sidewalk from 5 feet to 4.5 feet along a 250-foot stretch due to a steep grade and an existing guide rail, which legally cannot be removed.
Planning commission members agreed that Steve Shannon should be given a waiver and not be required to build the entire sidewalk system that the ordinance would otherwise require. But several commission and township staff have expressed concerns about the narrow strip of sidewalk that would be required.
The guide rail, they said, would make it difficult to maintain during winter snow, but more seriously, it could force a pedestrian into the road if two or more walked on the sidewalk at the same time.
The Planning Commission recommended that the developer assess the work and costs required for the sidewalk along East College Avenue from Shiloh Road to the Decibel Road entrance.
For the sidewalk alone, Toretti said, the College Avenue option would be easier, but it was unclear what else would be needed. The option may eventually require replacements, including pedestrian and traffic light controls, a lamp post and several trees.
Toretti said he will meet with PennDOT and township staff to assess the feasibility of the option before the subdivision is presented to council, which is expected at its July 21 meeting.
Planning commission members said they appreciated Steve Shannon’s submission of a proposal for perimeter sidewalk connections rather than seeking a full waiver, noting that as the township develops its master plan for sidewalks, it seeks to fill in the gaps.
“It’s refreshing to see a presentation that begins to consider the owner contributing a sidewalk to the master plan,” said planning commissioner Robert Hoffman. “Thus far all of the waiver requests have given us no options and I commend the owner and PennTerra for moving forward and trying to develop a reasonable sidewalk plan…I appreciate the efforts and expenses you spend on landscaping.”
“I think what you are doing and what you are asking for is reasonable,” added planning commission member Peggy Ekdahl. “I’m definitely for anyone who goes where they contribute a little bit and no one is asking…to do nothing; they ask to do something. I think it will be really good for the sequel and in the future.