Repurposing the past and pioneering new experiences

April 10, 2022

Titan Park’s historic industrial space has become Happy Valley’s favorite new social scene — and there’s still room for your business

Axemann Brewery 

Titan Park is hardly anything new. In fact, it’s pretty old, a long-standing fixture in Bellefonte and the lives of Bellefonte residents for more than a century. However, what’s being done currently at the park is exceedingly new — and unlike anything else going on in Happy Valley.

Long history, new life 

The industrial site started as an automotive plant, before evolving into Alpha Metal Company, then Titan Metal Company, then Titan Manufacturing Company, then Cerro Metals, then Bolton Metals. The site contributed greatly to the war effort during World War II and, in more recent history, Bellefonte natives can tell you about their fathers and grandfathers working at the plant up until their retirements. After Bolton Metals closed in 2009, however, the expansive campus shut down completely and was partially emptied, with equipment destroyed in place. That’s where Titan Park’s most recent owner, Navitus, LLC, came in.

“The minute we walked in, it really just felt like there was so much energy behind the people that were already planning things in the space.”

According to Joe Leahey, vice president of Navitus, “Over the years, we were pitching different uses for the spaces and, at one point, some outside developers came in from Pittsburgh and painted a picture that we had never considered. What they pictured was actually an apartment complex with indoor walking spaces and stores … right on a stream. A whole social indoor network space was part of the building. While we didn’t go that route, we did start seeking alternate uses and the brewery was the first.”

A blank slate with a big community 

Axemann Brewery opened in Titan Park in July 2020 as the first non-industrial tenant, but owner Rod Stahl said taking a chance as the first tenant of this type has paid off in multiple ways.

“I was interested in the idea of repurposing the old metal factory and it was fiscally attractive enough that we were able to take more square footage than we expected, to create a larger taproom. The owners of the park were great to work with and they had the means to provide assistance with the necessary renovations,” he explained. “With the help from our architect, Hoffman Leake, and the hands-on approach from the park owners, the space turned into something very special and exceeded our initial vision of the taproom.”

“The revitalization of a place like that was just really appealing to us. It was nice to see something old turning into something new.”

The flexible, blank-slate approach to tenants’ needs is something that’s attracted many other new businesses to the park, including Alloy Kitchen, which just opened last month. Much like Axemann Brewery, the Alloy Kitchen team initially was looking for a smaller space, but found a big opportunity in repurposing the park’s industrial space to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Axemann Brewery 

“The minute we walked in, it really just felt like there was so much energy behind the people that were already planning things in the space. I think we really got excited about how we could really see our vision coming out there,” said owners Lori and Jess Sabatino. “The revitalization of a place like that was just really appealing to us. It was nice to see something old turning into something new.”

Talk to any of the tenants at Titan Park and you’ll hear multiple mentions of “energy” and “community.” Tenants frequently come together to host joint events or collaborate. All are likewise eager to mention how important it is for them to be part of revitalizing a historic part of Happy Valley history.

“I can’t count the number of people I have met who’ve said ‘my dad/grandpa/uncle used to work there when it was the metal factory.”

“It’s exciting to be around like-minded people like Rod [Stahl], Corinna [Anskis, founder of Titan Market], Angie [Eliasz, owner of Mad McIntosh Cidery] and Lori [Sabatino], who not only want to see more food and drink options in the area, but also want to contribute to the revitalization of what was such an important piece of Bellefonte. I can’t count the number of people I have met who’ve said ‘my dad/grandpa/uncle used to work there when it was the metal factory,’” said Travis Lesser, founder of Appalachian Food Works, which moved into Titan Park last year. “The gentleman who hooked up my internet was excited because he had family who worked here and had never been in the building before. On top of all that, moving here gives us an opportunity to grow into the space, as opposed to being constrained by other properties that don’t have the space Titan has. On a personal level, though, I really like being able to lock up for the day and grab a happy hour beer without leaving the building!”

“A ton of potential” 

Today, you can stop by Titan Park on any Friday night and easily grab a beer, cider and great meal, or swing by on a Saturday morning to check out Titan Market, with its range of local vendors, artisans and craftsmen. The park has become a destination for dining, drinks and fun in not just Bellefonte, but the entire region.

Currently, Titan Park hosts 38 tenants and is at about 76% occupation. While visitors are most likely to see customer-facing tenants like the cidery, brewery and multiple restaurants, other tenants include a special metals manufacturer, carpentry shop and even a crypto mine.

In the near future, Leahey says he hopes to add other tenants that bring new shopping and entertainment options to the area, including a golf simulator venue, a vinyl record store and another restaurant. He anticipates the entire park will be at full capacity in the next few years — and for businesses considering moving their operations to Happy Valley, it’s important to note that Titan Park offers so much more than just those customer-facing spaces mentioned above.

Axemann Brewery 

“There are basically two major buildings. One building’s called Plant One and … that’s more of a commercial [space], though it is manufacturing, too, because they’re manufacturing beer and cider and specialty metals in there. But the other building is more industrial in nature. It’s major. We have overhead cranes. The ceiling height to the bottom of the cranes is 24 feet. The top of the building is like 50 feet. There’s a ton of potential for opportunities in the bigger building,” he said. “One of the big things that we’ve done at this facility, because it was important, was reuse a lot of the existing equipment and infrastructure … to keep the feel of an industrial building, but also make it fit to the purpose. That’s been pretty important. As each of these people have come in, they’ve all expressed that’s actually what they wanted the most.”

“He anticipates the entire park will be at full capacity in the next few years — and for businesses considering moving their operations to Happy Valley, it’s important to note that Titan Park offers so much more than just those customer-facing spaces mentioned above.”

And while the tenants are quick to mention the community aspect of the park, Leahey says the park has received plenteous support from the broader Happy Valley community as well.

“Spring Township has been very supportive of the project,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive of what we’ve been doing. They have helped us at every opportunity to make this a success. The county commissioners have done some great things; they actually supported us for a grant that we got, that we’ve used for funding to upgrade the building, to make it easier for a potential tenant to move in so that they didn’t have to bear that expense — and it’s actually worked out. That’s why our occupancy has increased so much. In addition, the local politicians have been very supportive. Jake [Corman] and Kerry Benninghoff have been unbelievable … There were obstacles getting stuff done and they’ve been able to clear some of those obstacles and help us get to where we can move forward.”

Learn more about Titan Park and available spaces for rent at https://www.titanenergypark.com. 

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