Planned renovations to the Leavey Center this summer potentially pose major changes for the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union and Students of Georgetown, Inc. storefronts, according to leaders of the two student-run organizations.
The university is planning renovations that include construction in the bookstore, Sellinger Lounge, the north corridor and Hoya Court areas of the Leavey Center to expand the bookstore, according to Senior Director for Strategic Communications Rachel Pugh.
The renovations are expected to take place from May 13 until September 2017.
The Hoya reported Feb. 28 that Uncommon Grounds would move to within the university bookstore on the second floor of the Leavey Center, with an exit onto the Leavey Esplanade.
The blueprints for the new UG show a rectangular space with doors leading into the second floor of Barnes & Noble and a staircase to the new location and seating areas.
The move is part of a larger expansion of the bookstore into Sellinger Lounge. Pugh said the construction will seek to avoid The Corp and GUASFCU storefronts.
“Construction will be limited to the bookstore, Sellinger Lounge, north corridor and Hoya Court areas in Leavey. The design and construction team has worked closely with the Corp during planning stages of the project,” Pugh wrote in an email to The Hoya.
However, Corp CEO Melina Hsiao (COL ’18) and GUASFCU CEO Rupert Kingshott (MSB ’18) said the changes could affect traffic flow in Sellinger and the Leavey Center, affecting GUASFCU and Corp storefronts UG and Vital Vittles.
Hsiao said the move of UG presents an exciting but uncertain change for the organization.
“It’s really exciting in some ways, and a little bit nerve-wracking; it’s going to be a major change to the flow of traffic in the Leavey Center, and that is likely going to be a major change to our business,” Hsiao said. “It is going to be interesting to see how that works out.”
Kingshott said although the change will not help GUASFCU’s business, the burden is on the credit union to cater its services to Georgetown students.
“If I could make it not happen, that would be great, but I am not too concerned about it,” Kingshott said. “In the end, we are here to serve Georgetown. We make the financial lives of Georgetown students easier, and the burden should be on us to find them, not on them to find us.”
Hsiao said she was concerned that Vital Vittles might suffer as a result of the construction.
“Also, for Vittles, it will be a little bit of a concern post-construction with part of the Leavey Center so shiny and brand-new that no one wants to walk over toward Vittles. That could also be a hit to some of our business,” Hsiao said.
Kingshott said because students usually plan trips to the GUASFCU office, slight inconveniences should not deter them from banking there.
“Our business model is not so much about foot traffic. It is more about us presenting our message,” Kingshott said. “For us, you basically go for a specific thing, whether it is a loan, or even just to make a withdrawal. Because of that, it will not really affect us.”
Pugh said that the results of the new Leavey Center will not noticeably affect GUASFCU or Vital Vittles.
“GUASFCU and Vital Vittles impact is minimal and limited to construction activities that will occur in the designated retail areas,” Pugh wrote.
Hsiao assured the Corp is collaborating with the university to continue to promote Vital Vittles.
“We are working with the university to get signage to promote the new UG and pointing out that Vittles is ‘around this corner’ and ‘down the hall,’” Hsiao said.
Hsiao said UG’s transition upstairs to the Leavey Esplanade might attract new audiences from different locations than before.
“I think that it will be a really different flow of traffic into UG. Being up on Leavey Esplanade, maybe we will get more people coming over from MSB or the hospital,” Hsiao said.
Hsiao said she is concerned students could shift their business to Starbucks on the first floor of the Leavey Center. However, Hsiao said she hoped UG maintains a culture that will retain students’ favor regardless.
“I wonder whether people will go upstairs to UG or down the hall to Starbucks. I think that is a little bit of a concern,” Hsiao said. “It will be a new space, and I hope that UG is creating a welcoming environment that people want to hang out in anyway, so they will seek that out.”
According to Hsiao, the construction itself will likely not have a significant impact on business for UG since business operates far slower for The Corp from June to August.
Hsiao said The Corp’s main goal vis-à-vis the new construction is to ensure that all Corp locations in the Leavey Center remain integral to students’ daily lives on the Hilltop.
“How do we find the best way to make going to UG or Vittles part of the daily life and routine of incoming students? That is true of every year, but this year in particular, because we might be losing some of the business from people for whom it is already part of their daily routine,” Hsiao said.
Kingshott said that GUASFCU would ultimately bear responsibility for its own success despite any problems that arise from the new construction.
“It is just one of those things that happens, and you roll with it, because in the end it is up to us,” Kingshott said.
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