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Groundbreaking was held on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 for Alvernia University’s CollegeTowne project.


Below: Alvernia University President John R. Loyack smashes a wall Tuesday as the university celebrates the beginning of work on its Reading CollegeTowne project at 401 Penn St.

In February, 2020, after five months of collaborative talks, Alvernia University and I-LEAD, Inc. jointly signed a purchase and sale agreement for the CNA Insurance Building located at 401 Penn Street. Alvernia University finalized the purchase of the building on June 30, 2020.

Reading CollegeTowne is an innovative strategy of expanding the campus into the downtown area.

Alvernia recently received a $4 million grant from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to renovate its newly secured downtown Reading location. The grant award is the largest in the university’s 62-year history.

Alvernia has partnered with RLPS Architects and Warfel Construction to renovate and retrofit the former CNA building. The plan is to renovate the building into academic, instructional and office space on the lower and ground floors. There would also be three commercial spaces on the ground floor and a portion of the fourth and fifth floors would house residential units.

The first floor of the building will include a large student lounge; high-tech general purpose classrooms; Alvernia’s business and communications programs; the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship; and the college’s new small business incubator. It will also feature tenant space for things like restaurants and shops including Starbucks.

The building’s lower level will be home for Alvernia’s new engineering program. The university will offer three Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering. The engineering program is the first academic offering to emerge from Alvernia’s newly-launched modernized, student-centered and entrepreneurial operating model. The building will include state of the art labs and research facilities as well as easy access to the economic redevelopment activity happening on Penn Street and throughout downtown Reading.

The student powered business incubator is central to the Reading CollegeTowne initiative. The incubator is student-run and provides experiential learning opportunities for students of all disciplines. This initiative will allow students to create, collaborate and lead while providing hands-on support to new ventures and entrepreneurs in the community.

Reading CollegeTowne is a strategy and model for championing economic redevelopment in downtown Reading. Through partnerships and collaborations with the City of Reading and local businesses and organizations, Alvernia serves as a strategic enabler for strengthening the local economy downtown.


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