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Penn State plans to sell the Nittany Lion Inn and Penn Stater, while keeping the land

Outside of Nittany Lion Inn
Min Xian
/
WPSU
A file photo shows the front of the Nittany Lion Inn, which Penn State plans to sell, along with the Penn Stater Hotel. University trustees approved the plan June 29, 2022, under which the university will maintain ownership of the land.

Penn State plans to sell the Nittany Lion Inn and Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center and lease the land they're on to a company that will run them, in a move the university says will have long-term benefits.

The Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve a purchasing agreement and lease with the Scholar Hotel Group. According to a news release, the university will retain ownership of the land, while the Scholar Hotel Group will own and operate the properties and lease the land.

“While both hotels have served the university community well for decades and hold a special place in Penn State history, after the in-depth evaluation to examine hotel operations, Penn State has made the determination that divesting from the hotel businesses will enable us to focus on our core missions that remain teaching, research and service,” Sara Thorndike, senior vice president for finance and business, said in the news release.

The Scholar Hotel Group owns and manages Hyatt Place and the Scholar Hotel, both on Beaver Avenue in State College.

“Scholar Hotel Group is excited to work through the specifics with Penn State and is committed to providing the highest quality hospitality services and environments to the Penn State and local communities,” said Gary Brandeis, president and founder of the Scholar Hotel Group, in the news release.

The announcement follows a review by the university of its hotels. According to the university, the analysis found “strategic value in divesting from hotel operations at University Park.” That analysis comes from the university's Resource Optimization Initiative, which is focused in part on finding ways to cut costs.

Opened in 1931, the Nittany Lion Inn has been closed as a hotel since March 2020. Since then, the university has used the historic building for housing and classroom space, after initially planning to use it as an isolation unit for students with COVID-19.

While it’s expected that the Nittany Lion Inn will be closed until 2024, the Penn Stater will stay open.

Details of the agreements are still being worked out. According to the university, it expects the agreements to be finalized this fall.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.