Whisky Saigon, an upscale nightclub on Boylston Street, will weigh the decision to renew or rescind its lease with the college in 2022 for the first time.
The club’s contract with Emerson gives the owner of Whisky Saigon the right to extend the lease by another 10 years if the owner chooses to stay. Emerson could legally deny renewal for the first time in 2032, according to Senior Associate Vice President for Real Estate Arthur Mombourquette.
The college bought the building on 116 Boylston St. in conjunction with the Walker Building in 1998. The college leased the space to Whisky Saigon in 2013 after the owner of another former nightclub transferred ownership.
Mombourquette said Emerson permitted the owner of the previous nightclub to transfer over a lease or find a new tenant when in a financial bind.
Mombourquette said his usual meetings with the on-site manager at Whisky Saigon ensure both parties meet the lease agreement terms. The meetings occur more frequently when needed, such as when the Dining Center went under construction last year and impacted the Whisky Saigon space.
The owner of Whisky Saigon, Kevin Troy, did not give a firm indication as to whether or not the club will vacate at the end of their lease, Mombourquette said.
The owner and the manager of Whisky Saigon declined to give a comment for this article.
“It’s probably no secret that the college is really hurting in space,” Mombourquette said in a phone interview. “There is a long list of needs where we seem to always have the need for additional classroom space, for additional studio space, performance spaces. We’d love to have more student social spaces. So it’s unlikely if that space became available to us that we would lease it out again for any use—we’d want to keep it for college use.”
Junior Katharine Rhee said she would avoid passing Whisky Saigon during weekend nights when she lived in the Colonial building last year.
“I have personally gotten catcalled and harassed walking from my dorm to the [Dining Center] and back, and it made me very uncomfortable,” Rhee said. “It’s just not pleasant to feel like an outsider on your campus.”
Rhee said the nightclub brings a negative environment to the school.
“When the club lets out—or even before then, when people are waiting in line—they’re drunk. Sometimes they’re belligerent, and they’re not very respectful to students,” Rhee said.
Sophomore Marissa Cardenas said on weekend nights she finds the line of clubbers along the block amusing as she walks to the Max Cafe in the Piano Row residence hall.
“I see all these drunk people just stumbling and being goofy and acting like a fool—it’s kind of just some late-night entertainment,” Cardenas said. “I don’t really get scared by it—I know some students get anxious by it, but I think it’s just funny.”
Sophomore Harper McKenzie said most students use the front of the nightclub as a place to smoke between classes.
“I don’t like that it’s in the middle of our campus. It just feels super out of place,” McKenzie said. “It’s a negative experience I’d prefer not to have to deal with.”
The Emerson College Police Department assisted Whisky Saigon security guards on Nov. 10 after non-Emerson-affiliated individuals began an altercation inside the nightclub that moved onto Boylston Street. The Boston Police Department arrested one person outside of the club for assault and battery, according to last week’s incident journal.
ECPD Chief of Police Robert Smith said he assigns officers to patrol the sidewalk between 114 Boylston St. and 122 Boylston St. during Whisky Saigon’s open hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and sometimes Thursday nights.
“Some members of our community have expressed concern about navigating this stretch of sidewalk when there are lines of people waiting to get into the Whisky Saigon. We’ve also received complaints about rude comments from individuals waiting in those lines,” Smith wrote in an email statement to the Berkeley Beacon. “Officers are assigned to these duties to help ensure the safety and well-being of our community, which is ECPD’s top priority.”