Michelle Lynch: Reading's Albright College breaks ground for student residence hall

Apr. 21—Albright College says its newest residence hall will be more than just bricks and mortar.

"For us, exceptional residential living is really about success, happiness and outcomes for today's students," said Dr. Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Albright's president and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Fetrow spoke Thursday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the as-yet-unnamed hall to be built in the 1700 block of North 12th Street.

The proposed building, across from Gene L. Shirk Stadium and between Exeter and Bern streets, will offer five stories of suite-style living for sophomore, junior and senior students, she said.

The residence hall, a collaboration of the college and MPG Impact Development, based in Fort Washington, Montgomery County, is expected to be ready for fall 2023, said Carey Manzolillo, director of communications for the college.

This is the second time since 2020 MPG and Albright are partnering to house students, Manzolillo said.

The development company also owns Rockland Hall, 1200 Rockland St., which houses approximately 230 students and is leased on a long-term basis to the college.

The ownership-lease structure for the new hall will differ somewhat in that Albright will retain ownership of the 2.66-acre parcel, which was mostly a field with a paved basketball court

MPG will lease the land, fund construction and own the building, which in turn will be managed by Albright.

"Our public-private partnership with the MPG Impact Development is a great example of a strategic partnership," Fetrow said.

The project is expected to improve living arrangements and enhance campus life, leading to greater success and happiness and better outcomes for Albright students, she said.

"We know that living in a campus community creates a culture in which students to feel more connected to each other and their college," Fetrow said. "This is one of the important reasons that we require our students to live on campus."

Students who live on campus also are more likely to take advantage of key success services, such as tutoring, computer support and even more nutritious food options.

Healthy eating has been shown to contribute to reduced anxiety and better grades, she said.

Albright's research shows students living on campus earn significantly higher grade-point averages than students who live off campus, the president said.

"And students who live on campus tend to report more positive academic decisions and social support from friends and family than those who live off campus," Fetrow said.

The college president thanked those who helped make the project possible, including MPG partners Jeffrey Goldstein and Steve Carpey, MPG partners Jeffrey Goldstein and Steve Carpey and Reading Mayor Eddie Moran.

City Council will hold a public hearing on the project at 5:30 p.m. on April 27 in City Hall, 815 Washington St.

Those wishing to provide public comment must register with the city clerk's office by noon on the day of the hearing by calling 610-655-6204 or emailing council@readingpa.gov.