by Alana J. Mauger
As residents of Pottstown and its surrounding communities head to the Schuylkill River and its trails for recreation this summer, they will see a flurry of activity at 140 College Drive – the future home of the Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center.
Montgomery County Community College is currently in phase II of the renovation that will transform the facility, commonly referred to as “the old PECO building,” into a state-of-the-art educational center. Phase II work includes improvements to the building’s infrastructure and exterior envelope, including the installation of sustainable features that will support LEED certification.
Specifically, phase II will include replacement of the building’s aged, leaking roof with an eco-friendly green roof, along with the installation of energy efficient windows. A new entrance and handicap-accessible ramp will also be created. Phase II work is slated for completion in September.
When funding becomes available, phase III work will focus on the building’s interior, including the development of classrooms, offices and student spaces. A variety of sponsorship and funding opportunities are available to help bring the proposed Riverfront Academic and Heritage Center to fruition. To learn more, visit http://www.mc3.edu/giving or call the College’s Foundation at 215-641-6535.
The completed Center will provide space for four college classrooms equipped with SMART technology, a state-of-the-art laboratory that will support the College’s Environmental Science degree program, and an interpretive center that will provide educational, historic and tourist information about the Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA).
In May 2010, the College completed phase I of the project by renovating the site’s parking lot. Renovations included removing contaminated soil, installing underground drainage facilities, adding clean fill, installing a blacktop cap to protect the groundwater table, and constructing three bio-retention basins to capture stormwater runoff. Installation of LED lighting and the placement of more than 130 trees, shrubs and bushes make the lot more sustainable.
The building at 140 College Drive served the Pottstown community as an electrical generating station starting in 1911. After sitting vacant for a number of years, the building and three-acre site were purchased by the Borough of Pottstown. The College secured ownership of the site in April 2009, and enjoys a unique partnership with the SRHA, which leases office space in the building.