January 23, 2009

An artists's rendering of the proposed new bookstore.

By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, PA. – Plans to develop a Bucknell University bookstore in downtown Lewisburg are moving forward, but remain contingent upon funding and approval by the University’s Board of Trustees, Bucknell officials said Friday.

If planning proceeds, the proposed 29,000-square-foot bookstore could open by fall 2010, said Wayne Bromfield, the University’s general counsel. Bromfield, along with David Surgala, vice president for finance and administration, hosted an open campus forum on downtown Lewisburg development initiatives attended by about 175 students, faculty, staff and members of the community, as well as Lewisburg Mayor Judy Wagner and Linda Sterling, executive director of the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership. || Audio: Listen to Wayne Bromfield 

The bookstore is one of several development ideas that the Board of Trustees, which meets at the end of January, is expected to consider.

Expansive book inventory
The bookstore, which would occupy the northwest corner of Fourth and Market streets, would include an expansive book inventory as well as a café and spaces for poetry readings and musical performances, Bromfield told a lunchtime audience in the Elaine Langone Center Forum.

Such a bookstore would increase municipal and county tax revenues, advance town-gown relations, increase foot traffic and provide a catalyst for other development while making available 12,500 square feet of “desperately needed” space in the Langone Center for other University uses, he said. The bookstore also would generate as many as 17 new jobs.

“We hope by virtue of the foot traffic that is directed to the bookstore that the other merchants, restaurants and stores in the area will benefit,” said Bromfield, citing other university towns – like Hamilton, N.Y., where Colgate University, a peer institution of Bucknell’s, is located – that have benefitted economically from similar development initiatives.

Shuttle service
The University also is exploring providing shuttle service to the proposed store, which would be about six blocks from campus.

It has not been decided whether the bookstore would be run by the University or operated by an outside vendor, such as Barnes & Noble. At least one private bookstore company with which the University has had discussions has an online ordering and dorm-room delivery service and a liberal return policy.

Surgala said the proposed bookstore would cost about $9 million, two-thirds of which has already been secured by the University from the Commonwealth. To date, Bucknell has secured $12.25 million in various program funds from Pennsylvania for the Lewisburg Core Community Initiative, a series of economic and cultural development projects.

Other initiatives
Bromfield spoke briefly about other development initiatives being considered, including a renovation of the 32,000-square-foot federal building that houses the U.S. Post Office that would provide office space for as many as 80 Bucknell employees. The University is also considering building an inn and conference center and a parking garage on campus.

Regarding the post office, Bromfield said should the idea go forward, the postal facility would remain on the first floor because of its role in the community.

“These projects have funding streams imagined for them,” he said, “but they are not at any decision-making level. They’re just at a directional level with trustees and administrative folks that are involved in the planning process.”

Contact: Division of Communications

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