AMTRAN options Roaring River Mills
On September 19, AMTRAN’s Board of Directors made an option offer on the Roaring River Mills property directly across 5th Avenue from their bus garage near Mansion Park. The 3.2 acre property is currently owned by long-time Altoona businessman, Norman Glucroft, but was originally part of the trolley works for the Altoona & Logan Valley Electric Railway.
According to AMTRAN Board Chairman Scott Cessna, “There are two reasons for an organization to make a capital investment - to make money or to save money. This project will do both.” The savings will come through AMTRAN’s plan to utilize the former Gold’s Gym building, originally a trolley barn, to park buses. This will save the maintenance department hours of service time every day and will keep the entire fleet under roof. The revenue will come from the largest part of the property facing Sixth Avenue (state route 764) which will be jointly developed by AMTRAN and a private developer to be selected through a competitive procurement process. Through a land-lease with the developer, AMTRAN will receive revenue which can be used for day-to-day operations.
The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Joint Development Program will enable AMTRAN to utilize federal grants to make the site pad-ready, then partner with a private developer. The capital-only grants are through the efforts of Congressman Bill Shuster, Senator Arlen Specter, and Senator Bob Casey.
The option offer is the first step in a long process. The 120-day option period allows AMTRAN time to line up all of the necessary documentation for the FTA and to study any potential environmental issues. During the option period, if AMTRAN decides to purchase the property, the price will be $1,225,000 minus the actual cost of any environmental remediation. (The value is based on an independent appraisal.) Once AMTRAN has actually purchased the property, they will begin renovations to the trolley barn that will include meeting and training space for AMTRAN personnel in addition to storage for buses. They will also advertise a Request for Proposals to competitively select a private developer to partner with them on the remainder of the property.
Altoona Mayor Wayne Hippo summarized, “A long vacant property will be developed for private enterprise. The City, the County, and the School District will get additional real estate taxes. AMTRAN will get a long-term revenue stream. This is a win-win-win proposition. Congratulations to AMTRAN.”