Construction begins on $4M gym for charter school

Brian Pedersen//May 30, 2018

Construction begins on $4M gym for charter school

Brian Pedersen//May 30, 2018

Mohawk Contracting & Development of Upper Macungie Township will build the 16,000-square-foot project, which would seat 1,600. The building, designed by Alloy5 Architecture of Bethlehem, will go up at 555 Union Blvd. in Allentown at a cost of $4 million.

Workers will connect the gym to the charter school, which Mohawk Contracting expanded last year.

Construction of the gym should be finished by December, said Nik Naidu, president of Mohawk Contracting.

“This is really going to spotlight the charter school,” Naidu said. “We are going to have a corridor through the building in which there’s going to be a nice, ornamental staircase leading to the gym.”

The gym’s entrance would be from the rear parking lot so people would walk through the school to get to the gym. The school also will have exterior lighting to display events and school colors for games, he added. The ceiling height will be 36 feet.

The gym will include a school store and light-concession stand, plus team lockers and restrooms, Naidu said.

The school is applying to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association so students can enroll and participate in a variety of competitive sports against other public, private and charter schools in the area. Sports may include basketball, volleyball and wrestling.

The school has areas it uses for physical activity but none for team sports, Naidu said.

“It’s going to be a big attraction for the upper grades,” said Bruce Johnson, chief business officer for the charter school. “Without a gymnasium, students are allowed to go to their home districts to play sports. It’s going to be a big step forward.”

Johnson said the school would send the application to the athletic organization June 1 and should get approval at the start of the school year in September.

The charter school could use the facility year-round.

The school could host a lot of functions and activities in the gym, so it would have a benefit to the community as well, Johnson said.

The overall cost of the project is $4 million, Naidu said.

His construction firm is doing the work through the charter school foundation, a separate entity that is funding the project.

The charter school serves students in kindergarten through 11th grade. The school, which opened in 2014, takes a business-model approach to its curriculum.

Johnson said the school serves about 1,200 students and plans to add a 12th grade program next year.