Like the dozens of reporters in town for the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial, Linda Jabco spent Sunday afternoon preparing.
Jabco, the owner of a vacant, 2,000-square-foot storefront at 131 S. Allegheny St., was busy hanging signs advertising the space for rent at a price of $50 per day.
"We're hoping to get a media group in here," she said. "Though we're not particular."
Two doors down, Bob Taylor had found more success with a lower price. He rented out his property at 135 S. Allegheny St. to CBS for the month of June for $600.
"I had a sign in the window saying it was for rent, and they contacted me," Taylor said. "I'm thinking I pretty well gave it away at that price."
Rumors abound of other landlords with vacant properties near the courthouse who are asking for as much as $100 per day. Jabco said it was difficult to gauge the suddenly vibrant market for Bellefonte's downtown real estate.
"It seems renting by the day is the commitment people want to make," she said. "Obviously, they don't know how long the trial is going to last."
For many downtown business owners, the hope is that the trial goes on as long as possible.
Donna Benner, executive chef at The Governor's Pub, an eatery down the street from the courthouse, said the trial has been great for business.
"When the reporters are in town, our business seems to double, sometimes quadruple," Benner said. "The trial may not be having a great effect on the community, but it seems to be at least having a positive impact on us."
Seeing an opportunity, Governor's Pub has started delivering its salads, burgers and reubens to the hungry media horde at the courthouse.
"One person sees it, and says, 'What's that?' " Benner said. "Then there's a cascade effect."
Two local pizza joints, Mamma Lucrezia's and Brother's, both reported upticks in sales due to the trial. Dave Fonash, the co-owner of the Gamble Mill Tavern, said he's also seen some new business.
"I wouldn't say it's a significantly huge amount of new business, but it certainly has drawn quite a lot of new faces and a lot of new people, especially," Fonash said. "We're hoping word increases about our food, but I think we'll have to see how long the trial drags on, what twists and turns it takes, and how long people stay in town."
Speaking of staying, local hotels have also benefited from the influx of out-of-towners.
Many members of the media are staying at hotels in the State College area, including the Best Western by the mall, the Quality Inn on North Atherton Street, and the Hilton on East College Avenue.
Ashley Bowersox, the sales manager for HFL, which operates the Sleep Inn, the Comfort Inn and the Country Inn and Suites, said her company has seen "about a 20 percent lift at all hotels."
Undercutting the popular guess at a monthlong trial, the average reservation length for members of the media staying at HFL hotels is just 14 days, Bowersox said.
Not that she's complaining. "It's definitely been a big boost," she said.
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