Board approves purchase of new location for Lehigh Valley campus

March 20, 2009

Hershey, Pa. -- With just 47,000 square feet of building space, Penn State Lehigh Valley operates in tight quarters. As enrollments at the campus continue to rise, scheduling classes for the limited instructional space has become a challenge.

With that in mind, the Board of Trustees today (March 20) approved the purchase of property in Center Valley for the relocation of the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus from its current Fogelsville location, which is just 16 miles from the new facility. The purchase agreement for the property at 2809 East Saucon Valley Road was signed about two weeks ago, pending approval of the board at today's meeting.

The University's cost of $12 million for the property includes not only the structure and its 29 acres, but also furnishings, fixtures and equipment. Proceeds from the expected sale of the Fogelsville campus will go toward the purchase price of the new property.

"The facilities at the Fogelsville campus have served us well since we took up residence. However, there are many limitations to the campus. Much of the land on which it sits is unbuildable and limited by hilly topography and surrounding wetlands. Furthermore, the addition of any building on campus would require more parking lots, lights and result in heavier traffic in this primarily residential neighborhood," said Ann Williams, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. "The University administration has determined that the procurement of the building in Center Valley provides a more cost-effective and timely solution to many of the immediate challenges we are facing, and will help us meet and exceed the standards of a Penn State campus serving a growing metropolitan area like the Lehigh Valley."

Albert G. Horvath, vice president for finance and business at Penn State, said the move to Center Valley would be the fifth location of the Penn State Lehigh Valley campus since 1912.

The Lehigh Valley is the third-largest population area in Pennsylvania and, according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., the second-fastest growth area in the Northeast with a projected population increase of 22 percent by 2030. In addition, the number of high school graduates in the area served by Penn State Lehigh Valley is expected to increase 16.5 percent between 2004 and 2016.

The Center Valley property consists of a three-story, 97,285-square-foot-building and 870 parking spaces on 29 acres of land. Built in 2002, the new facility is 50,285 square feet larger than the existing Fogelsville campus building. In its current set-up, the building includes two student lounge areas, well-equipped classroom space, six computer labs, a bookstore, library and learning center. The floor plan allows for a variety of options for space utilization.

The new site currently serves as the location of Lehigh Valley College, which is closing this year. Penn State Lehigh Valley proposes to relocate its operations as early as this summer. As part of the agreement, Lehigh Valley College would continue to occupy a portion of the building to serve its current students until its scheduled closure this December.

"We are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible for the Penn State Lehigh Valley community," Williams said. "A transition team is in place to ensure the least amount of disruption to programming possible. The timeline for relocation is currently being determined to maximize efficiency.  We will continue to update the community as those plans are finalized."

Once the transition to the new facility is complete, the Fogelsville property will be sold.

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  • The property at 2809 E. Saucon Valley Rd. For a larger view, click on the above image.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated November 18, 2010