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The Brewery stays — State College Borough Council votes to repeal previous eminent domain resolution

The Brewery in State College
Alex Rabb
The Brewery is one of the businesses in the block the State College Borough voted to seize through eminent domain to build a parking garage.

The Brewery is here to stay.

After weeks of backlash and discussion, State College Borough Council voted unanimously to repeal its previous decision to declare eminent domain on the building containing The Brewery and other local businesses, and the house next door.

Between a presentation about energy consumption and approval of local road closures, numerous community members shared memories and spoke for more than an hour and half in support of repealing the resolution.

Penn State Professor Kirk French, who teaches anthropology courses related to human alcohol consumption, spoke in support of repealing the eminent domain resolution. He said bars serve as important places of community bonding and shared experience.

“A bar like this that is a staple of the community and has been for decades – you can’t replace that vibe. You can’t replace that energy. It comes from its location,” he said.

Scott McKenzie, who said he worked at the bar for a number of years, spoke about his personal connection to The Brewery and the positive impacts it had on his life.

"There were many times where I was facing dark moments and suddenly my feet would carry me into The Brewery, and I would be among family,” McKenzie said.

While many speakers thanked the council members for reconsidering the decision, several also expressed worries about where the new parking garage planned for the spot would go instead. In addition, public transit, housing prices and the changing nature of downtown State College were frequently discussed.

Brewery owner Jay Horgas said he was unaware the borough had any plan to rescind its previous resolution. The owner said he is no stranger to stress, but the past two weeks have been “all consuming.”

Horgas said he appreciated the support regulars and community members offered. As patrons shared their stories to the council he said he and fellow owner Ray Rockey were “looking for Kleenex.”

“It's going to be a good walk home, just to really absorb it – take it all in,” he said. “Wow, really wow.”

James Engel is a WPSU news intern and senior at Penn State.