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Annville Blends Old-Time Charm With Modernized Activities
03.25.13 |
Updates on Annville Center, Renovations Downtown

The dedication ceremony of the multi-tiered fountain at the intersection of Rtes. 422 and 934 in the center of Annville marked the culmination of 20 years of work by LVC’s retired vice president emeritus for advancement Dick Charles, now president of the Annville Economic Development Association. Charles has been instrumental in the massive undertaking to build a streetscape downtown.

The project installed additional off-street parking, pedestrian walkways, and a small park with a showcase fountain on the corner of the property. Additional plans to renovate a row of four buildings that face Route 422 is nearing completion. Three of the four buildings have been sold, and commercial tenants occupy all three with apartments on the upper floors.

“Anytime you have a welcoming environment that is a connection between town and gown, that is a good thing,” said Gregory Krikorian, vice president of student affairs and dean of students at LVC. “I can tell you, I readily see students sitting out there relaxing on nice days. It provides an opportunity for informal interaction between community members and students. It’s also visually appealing, and it serves as another entrance to the College.”

LVC provided $250,000 to earlier streetscape efforts and another $250,000 to the Annville Center project. Former College president Dr. Stephen C. MacDonald was part of the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2011 and the grand opening in June 2012.

Current businesses being run through the strip of buildings include Subway, SPLAT Studios, and the Middle Atlantic Conferences.

Subway immediately became a hotspot for campus and community members, and it sees a large lunchtime rush comparable to any other restaurant in the area. Subway’s appearance has not diminished sales at the College’s convenience store, which provides a menu of similar items.

SPLAT Studios was moved from the Paramount Sports Complex in South Londonderry Township to Annville Center to increase visibility and capacity. The studio offers art classes for ages 2 through adult. The building was most recently owned by the College.

The Middle Atlantic Conferences should sound familiar to many on campus, as LVC competes within them. The conference, which is split into the Commonwealth and Freedom conferences, has been housed on Route 422 since before renovations began.

“In my time here, there has been a strong desire to have a good, collaborative relationship with the township,” Krikorian said. “Having a nice, vibrant main street is important in a college community. It allows students to have an escape and provides a place for faculty and students to hang out.”

What To Do Downtown

The hub of Annville for many students is the Allen Theatre and MJ’s Coffee House. The Allen is known for its rotation of critically acclaimed movies new and old, but its ownership has actively sought ways to bring in LVC students.

“If students present their Student Programming Board mug, they can have free coffee at MJ’s,” said Todd Snovel, associate director of student activities and engagement at LVC. “It’s an amazing opportunity to go and get some java. The coffeehouse receives increased traffic and food purchases, but it enjoys its partnerships with the college. For instance, we show our Colloquium films there.”

MJ’s also hosts live, acoustic music and open mic nights. LVC students have been able to showcase their talents, and many have been invited back for repeat performances.

An addition to downtown that has drawn a lot of attention has been the Annville Grille – a restaurant with similar offerings to the Batdorf or Corvette Grille but with a different feel, says Snovel.

“What I’m appreciating about our vendor services here is that they’re all really finding a niche,” Snovel said. “The Annville Grille has been expanding its live music offerings and hosting a lot of bands. They do a lot of ’70s and ’80s music, and from what I have seen they are speaking to an adult crowd. Between the Corvette, the Batdorf, and the Grille, you can find something that speaks to you or hop between the three.”

Another draw to downtown is its shopping. Annville is home to a number of eclectic shops and boutiques with a variety of wares not found in bigger stores.

“The downtown has some really cool shops and independent things,” Snovel said. “People who want to support small business can certainly do that. There are fun shops and little boutiques like Head to Toe. You wouldn’t think that they were Annville-esque, but they still do very well and have great gift opportunities.”

Pulling everything together is the continued efforts of the Friends of Old Annville, which runs tours that tell of the historical aspect of the town. The group is instrumental in the planning of Historic Old Annville Day (June 8) in the summer, and the Memorial Day parade that residents enjoy. It is a reminder of days past, and a fun way to bring attention to the positive changes taking place downtown.

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