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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell University's continuing consideration of opportunities to revitalize downtown Lewisburg will take another step forward this week when consultants survey two downtown properties for potential development.

The survey, scheduled to occur Wednesday, March 5, follows conversations the University has had over the past several years with the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership Board, Lewisburg Borough Council, Lewisburg Neighborhoods Corporation, Gov. Edward Rendell and other state officials, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and owners of the properties about opportunities for University developments in the Market Street area.

"A consensus has emerged among the borough leadership, state and county officials, and the University administration that unique Bucknell developments could make a major contribution to a thriving downtown and increase the well being and attractiveness of this entire community, including its attractiveness to visitors and Bucknell students, faculty and staff," said Charlie Pollock, Bucknell's vice president for external relations.

"These sorts of investments are vital to Lewisburg and the surrounding area. Moreover, the character of the community plays a crucial role in the University’s recruitment and retention of outstanding students, faculty, and staff." - Charlie Pollock

Potential interest
The two properties to be surveyed this week are located at 400 and 416 Market St. The buildings currently house The Magpie and the Mensch Agency, along with other businesses. The University has discussed its potential interest in these properties with the property owners and informed them of the upcoming survey.

The goal of the property survey is to gather information that only a site review can provide, including the suitability of the building space, infrastructure, and architecture for the developments the University is considering at those locations, which include a University bookstore, office space for fundraising staff, and retail space for local businesses. Should the University conclude the properties suit such projects, it will formalize an agreement with the owners to purchase the properties.

The assessments stem from the University's strategic plan, The Plan for Bucknell, and its "Building Bridges" objective, and are part of a multi-pronged effort to work with downtown leaders on efforts to preserve the economic vitality and architectural integrity of downtown Lewisburg. The earliest foreseeable date for which the two buildings being reviewed would be ready for new purposes, including any necessary renovations, would be late 2009.

Discussed in October
Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell and other Bucknell officials, Lewisburg Mayor Judy Wagner, and Union County Commissioner John Showers discussed these projects last October in a meeting with Gov. Rendell and members of his cabinet. The governor conveyed his interest in providing state support to the projects pending the timely resolution of a variety of details, including suitable locations.

Following the University's announcement of that meeting in October, representatives from Bucknell met with several downtown property owners to explore possible sales, and responded to other inquiries from owners who might be interested in working with Bucknell on specific real estate or development initiatives.

In addition to state funding, the University is pursuing opportunities for supporting the projects that may come from private developers and investors, alumni, local governments, and the federal government.

Other downtown projects
The University is also examining whether other properties on or near Market Street might serve well as the home for other downtown projects under consideration, including an arts center, and is developing plans for an on-campus Bucknell inn and conference center.

"These sorts of investments are vital to Lewisburg and the surrounding area. Moreover, the character of the community plays a crucial role in the University’s recruitment and retention of outstanding students, faculty, and staff," Pollock said. "We are proud to be working closely on these concepts with local leaders, and are pleased that with the survey of these properties the discussion and planning can advance to another level."

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted March 5, 2008