As the Leonard S. Fiore construction crew begins working on the next phase of the Fraser Centre, State College residents may wonder how the new business complex will affect the community.
Will new retailers such as Target steal business from local shops such as McLanahan’s? Or will these corporations ignite a friendly competition between big and small businesses and allow the downtown economy to flourish?
In addition to Target, the Fraser Centre will feature popular retailer H&M, restaurant Federal Taphouse and Hyatt Place. These corporations can potentially take business away from some of the local independently owned shops.
“I don’t think the new corporations will have a negative impact on the local businesses,” Vice President of Construction Patrick Irwin said.
However, Irwin said he believes State College could experience a change in the downtown shopping market.
“I think the Fraser Centre can enhance the shopping experience,” Irwin said. “With the new restaurant, hotel and businesses, we’ll be seeing a lot more activity.”
Additionally, Irwin said he believes the new Hyatt Place will keep out-of-towners closer to the downtown environment by providing guests with a hotel vacancy of 165 bedrooms, Irwin said. If guests are within closer proximity of a store, there is a higher possibility of shopping.
In terms of competing businesses, the downtown Target will not be as expansive as the average store, Irwin said.
“The new Target will be different from most Targets as it will consist mostly of products for students such as storage units and wall decorations,” Real Estate Capital Management Developer Gary Brandeis said.
While the new Target will be beneficial for students, the retailer will not monopolize the downtown shopping market, Brandeis said.
Since the downtown Target will not carry as many products, other businesses have the opportunity to meet consumers’ needs.
Jim French, general manager at McClanahan’s, does not seem to be too concerned with the bigger corporations, namely Target, making its way to downtown. While both McLanahan’s and Target will occupy space in the same region of downtown and sell similar products, French seems to welcome the new business complex.
It is important to have a vibrant downtown, French said. Similar to Irwin, French said he believes the Fraser Centre will bring more activity to the State College community and that McLanahan’s business will not suffer.
“As a retailer, you want to differentiate yourself from the commercial stores,” French said. “I feel that although we have similar products we can still distinguish ourselves from other businesses.”
Vice President of Process Management Richard Fiore Jr. has had several meetings with the downtown improvement district and said he believes there should not be any issues with downtown companies having to compete with the new Fraser Centre tenants.
“All of the businesses I have met with seem very excited,” Fiore said. “The Fraser Centre should help to increase foot traffic and, in turn, shopping.”
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