Thursday, January 27, 2022

Alvernia University Announces Additional Details for Pottsville CollegeTowne

On Thursday, Alvernia University announced additional details on their plans for their new CollegeTowne in Pottsville.

In late June/early July 2021, Alvernia University announced they would be purchasing the 30,000 sq. foot former Giant Supermarket property in Pottsville at 500 Progress Avenue.

In late December 2021, the University, as well as State Officials, announced that the school would receive a $3 Million grant that would be used to renovate the property.  The university has also received a $250,000 commitment from the City of Pottsville for the initiative.

Officials said on January 6th, 2022, they finalized the purchase.

On Thursday, the school, as well as City and State Officials gathered to announce additional details on where the project is heading.

“The Pottsville CollegeTowne initiative has a permanent home on Progress Avenue thanks to the partnership and collaborative efforts between Schuylkill County’s visionary community leaders, dedicated government officials, and insightful industry leaders,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “With our footprint secure in downtown, Alvernia will continue its student-centered modernization of the university that will expand experiential learning opportunities for our students while providing countless economic development opportunities in downtown.”

500 Progress Avenue will serve as the university’s second physical presence of its new strategic direction and will be the home of new and expanded academic programming, retail space and the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship’s student-powered business incubator. 

“Our future grandchildren and great grandchildren in Schuylkill County will have their lives changed as well because of what we’re celebrating here today,” said PA State Senator David G. Argall. “Today, we are looking at a vacant building where lives will be transformed, where young students and returning adult learners alike in health care, social work, logistics and many other fields of study will have the chance to learn and grow. This institution will literally change people’s lives for the better, one at a time.”

Inside the new property, the total academic space span 17,000 square feet and will be transformed into a high-quality and high-tech academic community-based space. The academic spaces feature four staff/faculty offices, 10 classrooms, a modern wet lab and a state-of-the-art computer lab. The facility will also include a conference room and open entry way featuring an inviting and professional lounge area for students, faculty and community guests. The remaining space in the building is being repurposed by the university through strategic regional partnerships as the institution seeks to expand and enhance its service to the community.

“Our partners and community leaders in the Pottsville community are helping us reimagine what the remaining portions of the facility could become, including retail and community-based programming space right in downtown Pottsville,” said Alvernia University Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, John McCloskey. “We look forward to selecting a design and build team in the near future and begin construction in the spring with plans to be open for the fall 2022 semester.”

Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute will partner Schuylkill County-based students with regional entrepreneurs, small-business owners, faculty researchers and industry leaders to enhance economic development in the region through the institute’s student-powered business incubator.

"The Alvernia CollegeTowne Project is a significant development for the Pottsville community. This project, similar to the CollegeTowne Project in Reading, is a model for redevelopment in both Pottsville and throughout our area, and will drive education and entrepreneurial innovation for decades to come,” said U.S. Congressman Dan Meuser. Last year, I submitted the Community Project Funding request of $2.58 million to support the Alvernia University Pottsville Campus Project in Congress, and I am hopeful this funding will be included in 2022's final appropriations legislation.”

Alvernia plans to enlist other organizations and businesses such as the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce and Pottsville Development Court to partner together to breathe new life and vitality into downtown Pottsville. The university looks to duplicate its early success of the CollegeTowne strategy in Reading, which has led to the start of several renovation projects spanning over 1,500,000 sq. ft. in redevelopment of vacant buildings along the Penn Street corridor, record-breaking new student enrollment and assisting over 125 businesses and entrepreneurs through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As someone who grew up in Reading, I was able to witness the grand opening of the university’s new downtown location at 401 Penn Street and see first-hand how Reading CollegeTowne has become a hub of activity and catalyst for other redevelopment initiatives during its first few months of operation,” said Alvernia University Board of Trustees Chairman and Fromm Electric CEO, Michael Fromm. “I can attest to the transformational power of this strategy. We are so excited about the endless possibilities that CollegeTowne will bring to this city and the greater Schuylkill County region.”

The school work is expected to be completed for classes to start in August of 2022.

Photos provided by Alvernia University