NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bellefonte Borough Agreement of Sale on original Armory 301 North Spring Street, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
The Borough of Bellefonte has entered into an agreement of sale for the original Armory building at 301 North Spring Street. There were a number of events that led to this decision. The borough’s police depa1tment space, located in the borough building at 236 West Lamb Street, has inadequate spacing. The Borough’s Strategic Management Plan, completed in 2021, recommended that the facility be upgraded.
In January of this year after a new mayor and council members were sworn in, Mayor Johnson directed the Police Chief to give Borough Council a tour of the current police facility prior to their second council meeting of the year. The intention of this tour was to make the elected leadership aware of the shortfalls and inadequacies of the current police facility. Building security, officer/visitor safety issues, lack of space, lack of modernization, employee morale and the lack of a professional appearance/image were all issues that needed to be addressed within the current facility. Council overwhelmingly agreed with staff leadership that a facility overhaul was long overdue and gave approval and direction to the Chief of Police and Borough manager to come up with an action plan to rectify the facility shortfalls.
Council approved having a design professional look at options for expanding and relocating the existing police department space. The cost of the upgrades was estimated to be $1.8 million.
Mayor Gene “Buddy” Johnson went to Senator Jake Corman’s office and explained the project to the Senator. Senator Corman was successful in securing a grant from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development in the amount of $1.8 million. These grant funds do not require a local match.
While state grant funds were being sought, the idea of purchasing the former Armory building and relocating the police department to this building became an option. The property had been on the market for a long time. The square footage available and the per square foot asking price for the building was extremely attractive. At minimum the building needs some upgrades which include ADA access, the installation of an elevator, and a sprinkler system. The purchase price and necessary upgrades will all be done at a cost of $1.8 million or less. “Spending $1.8 million to purchase and renovate the 26,000 square foot historic Armory over renovating the 2,000 square foot police department space will benefit the Armory, the entire Borough Staff and residents,” said Council President Randy Brachbill.
“The new building will address ALL of the issues that the police department has been dealing with for decades. The Department is looking forward to seeing firsthand the benefits of working in a facility that provides for all of the needs of the Department. This facility upgrade will greatly alleviate many tangible and non-tangible obstacles that our officers and staff face on a daily basis. Obstacles that largely go unseen by the citizens in which the Department proudly serves,” said Chief Shawn Weaver.
Since the Armory building provided additional square footage beyond what the police department needs, consideration is underway for moving the Borough Office and related departments as well. Storage of borough records may also be relocated. The relocation will provide a large meeting room for council meetings as well as smaller conference rooms for depa1iment meetings and training.
The current municipal building would continue to be the public works operations center and may have leasable space to suppo1i additional entitles, yet to be determined.
What about the loss of borough tax revenue by taking this building off of the taxable property rolls? The building currently has two tenants under lease that will not only make up for the loss in property taxes but will allow for operating and maintenance funds for the building. The building has additional space that potentially can be leased as well.
The Borough is planning to close on the property at the end of September and may be able to provide additional updates at that time.
The police department relocation would take place sometime in 2023 after the necessary upgrades have been completed.
For more information:
Gene “Buddy” Johnson, Mayor, Bellefonte Borough Phone: 814-355-1501 x218
Email: [email protected].gov
ShaWn Weaver, Chief, Bellefonte Borough Phone: 814-355-1501
Email: [email protected].net
Ralph Stewart, Borough Manager, Bellefonte Borough
Email: [email protected]