Mere weeks before on-campus housing registration begins at the College of William and Mary, the College announced its decision to purchase the Hospitality House, located on Richmond Road across from campus. The addition of the building will provide 138 singles and 157 doubles to the selection process and will increase parking options for students and faculty for fall 2013.
“Getting the hospitality house is a great blessing. It gives us something like 3.6 acres of beautifully located property,” College President Taylor Reveley said. “Who knows over the centuries what could be built there but having that land will be great. In the short term it gives us a lot of extra dorm rooms so we’ll be pushing a lot fewer of them into the world beyond. It also gives us parking space, relieving some of that pressure.”
The 3.6-acre property will provide 318 rooms, two restaurants, 20,000 square feet of conference space and 370 parking spaces (including a parking garage), according to a press release from the College. The $21 million purchase will be supported by 20-year bonds issued by the commonwealth of Virginia. Vice President for Finance Sam Jones announced that these bonds will be repaid through student housing fees, and the project will not divert funds from other College endeavors. Furthermore, furniture was included in the purchase, but the College has yet to decide if they will use it for the rooms.
Vice President for Administration Anna Martin believes the new rooms will provide the College with needed space to continue various renovation projects on campus — including the renovation of Chandler Hall next year. The hall will be closed for renovation during the 2013-14 academic year.
“The space allows us to take a residence hall offline while we do badly needed renovations,” Martin said in a press release. “Having additional rooms available is essential. It will allow us to address critical concerns with our current residence halls, including adding air conditioning to buildings at a much quicker pace.”
Administrators also believe the expansion will lower the number of students waitlisted during the room selection process. There is currently no waitlist for this semester’s registration period and students are no longer allowed to opt-out of on-campus housing.
“An important benefit will be the additional student housing,” Director of Univeristy Relations, Brian Whitson said in an email. “This will significantly reduce our need to use a wait list. That’s good news for students. The building’s location, the fact that the rooms have air conditioning and the number of bathrooms make it an excellent option for students. College-operated student housing and campus parking are two of our most pressing issues. This addresses both of those issues directly.”
Student opinion of the purchase appears relatively positive.
“I do see the purchase of the hospitality house as a positive impact on students because not only will the worrisome wait list cease to exist, students can stay close to campus and still enjoy a community of their own,” Residence Hall Association President Justin Miller ’13 said in an email. “It’s a really cool building with great facilities. If I wasn’t graduating I would opt to live there. And I think its unique location — near the bars but also in proximity to academic buildings — appeals to students too.”
Claire Etheridge ’16, who has already decided where she wants to live next year, believes that the Hospitality House may be an option for her in the coming years.
“I think it would be nice if we had a place that wasn’t Sadler that students could hang out near old campus, because leaving from Botetourt, if I spend all day on campus for classes, there is no place to go and hang out when it is cold or hot outside,” Etheridge said.
The purchase of the Hospitality House will also offer more employment opportunities.
“Our plan is to select RAs from alternates from the process conducted this spring,” Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Deb Boykin said in an email. “But as noted we have not been in the Hospitality House to determine numbers or placement of student staff. [However], the Hospitality House will be assigned to Area Director Rich Schofield.”
To register to live in the, as yet un-renamed, Hospitality House, students must go to the Resident Life office in Campus Center 212 during their scheduled time block with their roommate to select a room.
Before the purchase, Gene Lucas, the president of the Texas-based 1859 Historic Hotels, owned the Hospitality House.
“We understand the College’s need for additional student housing,” Lucas said in a press release. “We are pleased to have partnered with William & Mary to make this happen.”
The Hospitality House continues to function as a hotel until after this year’s Commencement ceremony and the purchase will not affect reservations made for Commencement weekend. After that time, however, the hotel will be inspected and the College will assess how many students the building may house.