McCarthy Gives Update on Suffolk Relocation
Suffolk University president James McCarthy spoke to an audience at C. Walsh Theater this afternoon about the planned construction of a new academic building to be located at 20 Somerset Street, just steps away from the Sawyer building and Miller residence hall and the futures of many existing buildings on campus.
The discussion — part of McCarthy’s “Town Hall Meeting” presentations about issues pertinent to the Suffolk community — highlighted the steps that have gone into the proposed building thus far: a conceptual revealing of how the new building would look and the facilities it would include.
McCarthy also touched on the planned future purposes of the Donahue and Archer buildings and his plans to lease or sell both the Fenton and Ridgeway buildings, the latter which houses Suffolk’s athletic facilities. McCarthy proclaimed that with the progress they are making on the project, he hopes that the doors to the new building could be opened as early as 2015.
The new building at 20 Somerset is intended for purely educational purposes, and will hold approximately 1,100 seats for students. The building will have nine floors above ground (the top floor is for maintenance purposes). The ground floor will contain the lobby, classrooms, and lounges. The second and third floors will contain classrooms fit to host a variety of subjects and classes of varying size (between 20 and 80 students depending on the room). Floors five through eight are specified to be for science classrooms exclusively. The fourth floor, according to McCarthy, will most likely be used for all of the academic support groups such as the math center and Ballotti Learning Center. Additionally, there will be two subterranean floors that will be home to a new dining hall and more classrooms.
An aspect of the new location that McCarthy expressed excitement for was the proximity of Roemer Plaza located directly beside the proposed main entrance of the building. Though the plaza is not Suffolk-owned, McCarthy is hopeful that the Suffolk student body will be able to congregate around the area freely.
The most complicated aspect surrounding this plan is what will be done with the Donahue, Archer, Fenton, and Ridgeway buildings. McCarthy explains that Donahue and Archer will be utilized for administrative offices (also addressing two unused floors of 73 Tremont which could be used for similar purposes), and that it is his intention to sell or lease Fenton and Ridgeway as soon as a good opportunity becomes available. However, McCarthy says that the timetable on this issue is still to be determined.
“A lot of work is going on and a lot of work still has to go on,” before this project will near completion, McCarthy said. Although, this drastic of a move — particularly because it deals with the heart of the university — has some pressing implications.
McCarthy stressed the importance of keeping access to the Ridgeway gym available to students even if a new owner buys the building, and claimed that it is of great importance to him that Suffolk students have a gym in some form and location throughout the relocation and beyond.
A question raised by an audience member about where student activity groups will relocate to prompted an uncertain answer from McCarthy that suggests not every detail of this move has been ironed out as of today’s update.
The plan for 20 Somerset has been kicked since at least 2005, and according to McCarthy; it took until November 2012 before it “…became clear that this was a feasible project.” The next step for the 20 Somerset plan is to report back to Suffolk’s Board of Trustees by June or July with finished design documents and full permitting so they can estimate an updated maximum price for the construction.