Friday, March 22, College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley sent a campus-wide email to announce that the College purchased the Hospitality House on Richmond Road. Currently a hotel with 318 rooms and 370 parking spaces, the College hopes to use it for student housing needs next semester. While we have concerns about incorporating the Hospitality House into the College, we ultimately believe it will be an overall benefit for the community.
In order for the College to remain competitive, it must grow, and the commonwealth of Virginia demands that it grow. Looking around campus, it is evident that there is not much space left for the construction of new buildings, academic and residential alike. The best move for the College is to buy and convert existing structures, rather than to try building new ones. As Planning Commission member Chris Connolly ’15 emphasized earlier this year, redevelopment is the future of Williamsburg. The College is choosing a proactive path for the city by redeveloping an establishment.
The immediate benefits of the Hospitality House will be the increased number of rooms and parking spots available. Expanded options for housing will open up space, allowing the College to make needed renovations to other residence halls. The lack of a waiting list will make the process of securing housing easier for students, and although adding a few hundred parking spots will not solve the campus’s complicated parking problem, we expect it will improve it somewhat. Specifically, we hope it lowers parking fees, which are expensive and don’t guarantee you a parking spot close to your destination, and we hope it increases spaces for more day-student and residential parking.
Town-gown relations have always been an issue for the community, but we hope the purchase of the Hospitality House, and thus increased options for on-campus housing, will diminish some of the tension. With more students living on campus, the spread of students in neighborhoods might decrease, helping to ease the often-tense relationships between citizens and students.
Even with the benefits the Hospitality House will bring, we have concerns about its future integration. Will the College really be able fill all the rooms in the Hospitality House? Although opting out of student housing is no longer possible, supply could exceed demand. And how enthusiastic will students be to live in the Hospitality House? Specifics remain up in the air regarding how the rooms themselves will be altered to accommodate students. Unanswered questions coupled with rapidly approaching housing application deadlines may make students reluctant to choose the Hospitality House.
To successfully integrate the Hospitality House into the student housing structure, the College should work to make it an attractive option by taking student opinion into account and providing students with information as quickly as possible.