December 22, 2010


By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Construction on several downtown redevelopment projects will begin in January as Bucknell University takes ownership of the U.S. Postal Service building and begins renovations on two other historic properties along Market Street.

University officials have signed a financing agreement clearing the way for more than $16.5 million in improvements to the post office building, the Campus Theatre and the historic DeWitt building, said Dave Surgala, Bucknell's vice president for finance and administration. The majority of funding for the projects comes from state and federal grants and tax incentives for small-town economic development projects.

"This is an exciting day," Bucknell President John Bravman said. "These projects are vital to the downtown economy and will continue to strengthen the connection between Bucknell and the greater Lewisburg community."

Post office remains open
Work to convert the upper levels of the 32,000-square-foot post office building at Market and Third streets is set to begin within the next few weeks and will continue until the spring of 2012, said Jim Hostetler, Bucknell's director of construction and design. The space will be converted to about 65 University administrative offices. The first floor of the building will remain open and continue to function as a retail post office. Street closures are possible during the construction.

The post office's sorting operations eventually will move to a building at West Market Street formerly occupied by BZ Motors. Renovations on that building also will begin at the start of the new year. The University and the U.S. Postal Service entered into a swap agreement in which Bucknell will convert the BZ Motors building into a mail sorting facility in exchange for ownership of the historic post office building downtown.

Campus Theatre
At the 11,000-square-foot historic Campus Theatre at 419 Market Street, infrastructure improvements will include expansion of the stage, installation of a retractable screen, renovation of the lobby and improvements to the heating and cooling systems.

The three-story, 6,500-square-foot DeWitt Building at 416-422 Market Street will become the Bucknell Innovation Center and business incubator, housing the Bucknell Small Business Development Center and the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Center. The project will serve as a resource for Bucknell alumni and the community, encourage business development and growth for startup companies and promote job creation in the region.

Projects join bookstore
The projects will complement the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore, which opened this summer in another renovated historic building at 400 Market Street.

"Great things are happening in Lewisburg," Bravman said. "The renovation of the post office will bring dozens of full-time staff to downtown, and improvements to the Campus Theatre will secure the future of this historic landmark and cultural center in Lewisburg. The business incubator will serve as an important resource for entrepreneurs and expand on the work of our renowned Small Business Development Center."

Contact: Division of Communications           

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