University moves closer to expansion in downtown Reading
After five months of collaborative talks, Alvernia University and I-LEAD, Inc. jointly sign a purchase and sale agreement this week for the building located at 401 Penn Street in downtown Reading. The move puts Alvernia closer to making a reality of Reading CollegeTowne, the innovative strategy of expanding the campus into the downtown area to continue its Franciscan mission of education, service and community engagement.
“Reading CollegeTowne will be the focal point of Alvernia’s expansion and growth for the next decade,” said John R. Loyack, university president. “We are ready and eager to begin the next phase in Alvernia’s future,” he added.
Completing the purchase and sale agreement is the final step before ownership of the building, which Alvernia plans to assume in June. One of the first programs to move into the building’s first-floor space will be the student-centered business incubator powered by Alvernia’s rebranded O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.
The Reading CollegeTowne model, which thrives on partnerships and collaborations with businesses and local organizations, includes new and expanded academic programming, student housing and a strong community engagement component. Through a new student fellows program, O’Pake serves as the catalyst for educational and business expansion in city center.
“Working in partnership with Alvernia creates not only a win-win situation for Reading but also supports our shared commitment to education, economic development and entrepreneurship,” said David Castro, president of I-LEAD, Inc. Both schools have been working collaboratively since September 2019 on the purchase and sale agreement that allows Alvernia to better meet the needs of the city’s underserved population.
Alvernia’s founders, the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, have provided educational and social services to the residents of downtown Reading for more than 100 years. Given the success of Alvernia’s Reading Collegiate Scholars and College Readiness programs, the move downtown is a natural progression for the university.