Probable Construction Delays Leave Hotel Under Consideration for Housing
Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 14:12
The Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center is under consideration as a temporary student residence for the 2015-2016 academic year after the university announced a probable delay of the completion of the Northeast Triangle Residence Hall at the student housing open house Monday.
“We’re comfortable with the [completion of] the Northeast Triangle by the fall of 2016, that’s very achievable,” Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said. “We’re still trying for the fall of 2015, but we’re not counting on it.”
According to Olson, if the opening of the Northeast Triangle is delayed until fall 2016, the university may use two floors of the four-story hotel to house a total of 120 students.
“We’re thinking about sharing the hotel so that some floors could be student housing, and some floors could remain for hotel use for a one-year period. It’s an interim step,” Olson said.
The hotel was considered as a possible long-term student housing option in 2012, but administrators ruled out the idea last March because of the hotel’s revenue generation for the university. After the announcement of the conversion of Ryan and Mulledy Halls in October, however, Vice President for Planning and Facilities Robin Morey had said the hotel, along with off-campus housing, remained potential options. The university aims to minimize revenue losses in 2015 by maintaining some hotel space.
Preliminary plans for the partial conversion of the hotel include the creation of a community room, a study room and laundry space. Students’ rooms would be doubles, with provisions for resident assistants and an apartment for a hall director. Olson said the conversion would probably require some construction.
In order to maintain security for students, possible construction plans include a new entrance to the student portion of the hotel on the Leavey Esplanade or to the main floor of the hotel.
The temporary conversion of the hotel would assist the university in meeting its commitment to housing an additional 385 students on campus by fall 2015, which was reached under the Georgetown University 2010 Campus Plan agreement. The Northeast Triangle will house 225 students upon completion, while the conversion of Ryan and Mulledy Halls will ensure around 160 beds.
“We think it’s very realistic that [Ryan and Mulledy Halls] could be open by the fall of 2015,” Olson said.
The Northeast Triangle’s possible delay to fall 2016 has been consistent with its troubled planning process that has been ongoing since the hall’s announcement in July.
In an interview with THE HOYA on Oct. 28, Morey indicated that the timeline for the project was still undetermined.
“We are schedule challenged,” Morey said, mentioning the necessity of zoning board approval for determination. “With the [Old Georgetown Board] and the student engagement we’ve had, it’s definitely pushed us a few months and challenged it. …I think [the latest] is still up in the air because we’re just barely finished with concept design.”
The Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E had issued approval of a zoning variance Nov. 4, allowing the Northeast Triangle project to proceed.
The D.C. Zoning Commission, which met Nov. 25, presented a stumbling block for the advancement of the two slated construction projects, but it indicated it would provide approval upon the decision of the OGB. At the time, Olson said that the commission’s ruling was to be expected, but Morey expressed doubt that the university would be able to elicit OGB approval in December.
“I would hope that we could get approval in January, but I would not necessarily expect it in December,” Morey had said. “That would not be a setback.”
The OGB, while expressing concerns over the proposed aesthetics of the hall, did approve the height, massing and structure of the project Dec. 5., allowing the Northeast Triangle to move forward with final zoning approval.
However, according to Senior University Architect Jodi Ernst, the project is still in the early stages of design development, and it could take up to eight months to complete the final design.
“Theoretically, the design could be done in six months, but I’d really rather keep working on it,” Ernst said.
While many major aspects of the design, such as room layout, have remained unchanged since the university presented its plans for the interior in October, architects have been refining mechanical details of the building, such as the cooling, light and ventilation. Additionally, architects are considering including a southern entrance to the building, although the placement of the entrance is still unclear.
“We’re still pulling all of the pieces together — the budget, the interior, the scope, the feedback from the students,” Ernst said.
Both final concept approval and design approval from the OGB, which the university anticipates receiving in February and May 2014, respectively, are necessary before the university can apply for a building permit. According to Ernst, it could take up to six months to receive the permit.
“The critical path is not the design, it’s the approvals process,” Ernst said.
After receiving the permit, the university can begin construction of the residence hall; a process that Ernst estimates will last between 14 and 20 months.