Alvernia University CollegeTowne rendering

READING, Pa. - Alvernia University has taken a big step toward seeing its Reading CollegeTowne project become a reality.

The university on Friday unveiled a rendering of the former CNA building at 401 Penn Street in downtown Reading, which most recently housed the I-LEAD charter school.

Alvernia has also hired RLPS Architects and Warfel Construction as the design and build team for the remodeling and retrofitting of the five-story building.

"We reviewed proposals from three of the best design and build teams in the area, and the RLPS and Warfel team stood out with the best overall design and the lowest-cost approach in addition to their expertise in adapting for grant requirements," said John R. Loyack, Alvernia's president. "Securing this team allows us to move into the agreement stage of the design to build process, making Alvernia's expansion into downtown Reading one step away from reality."

Alvernia said its process of selecting the design and build team included meetings with the senior leadership team, affected university departments and the internal community.

"Alvernia utilized a design and build bidding process that encouraged innovation and collaboration among the bidding teams that ensured the process saves time and money," said Michael Fromm," the chair of Alvernia's board of trustees. "We are committed to using local suppliers and subcontractors, as supporting the local business community is at the heart of CollegeTowne."

Alvernia said the proposal it chose for the project included the best overall design, the most modular approach, the best fit with the university and project vision, the best ability to value-engineer the project and utilize an iterative approach.

The university said it will present finalized plans, designs, budgets and contracts to Alvernia's board of trustees for final approval later this month. It expects to take possession of the building on June 30.

One of the first programs to occupy the building will be the student-centered business incubator powered by Alvernia's rebranded O'Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship.

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