Expected opening for The Commons at 172 Tremont St. pushed to May

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By Anissa Gardizy

The Commons at 172 Tremont St. will not open for use this semester contrary to the initial projection from college officials that the building would open for students by spring 2019.

The college initially announced in March 2018 that 172 Tremont St. would open in January 2019, then extended the timeline to March 11, 2019. College officials now expect the building to open in May 2019, according to a community email sent on Feb. 12. Community members can reserve spaces in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center through May 4.  

Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Jim Hoppe said the college extended the timeline because the elevators required further construction.

“We learned after we started the project that the [elevators] didn’t meet the requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act, so that required it to be rebuilt,” Hoppe said in an interview.

Hoppe sent the email one day after President M. Lee Pelton announced that the Senior Associate Vice President for Real Estate Arthur Mombourquette would leave the college on March 1.

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“Art is certainly a really valuable member of the team. My sense was that things are planned and folks are set up to take on his responsibilities so that it shouldn’t have an impact [on the college’s projects],” Hoppe said in an interview.

Student Government Association Executive President Jessica Guida said in an interview that the extended timeline could benefit the organizations moving from the Campus Center to the new building.

“It was not what anyone was expecting. It is not ideal—it would be nice for students to settle in and have a couple months in their new spaces. It does get us away from having to move in the middle of the semester,” Guida said. “Getting in the building sooner would be great, but there is a silver lining.”

The email announcement also provided updates on other campus construction projects such as the Fitness Center and Little Building.

The college will finish building a new Fitness Center on the lower level of the Piano Row residence hall in fall 2021, though Hoppe said he did not know when construction would begin. The Fitness Center will remain at 52 Summer St. until the end of the fall 2021 semester, Hoppe said.

Emerson’s 2018 Institutional Master Plan states the college’s lease of 52 Summer St. will expire in fall 2019. Hoppe said he believes Property Management extended the lease until 2021 to accommodate the Fitness Center.

The college expects Little Building to open on schedule in fall 2019 and house all first-year students, according to the email.

Construction on the lower level of Little Building will continue until the spring 2020 semester. The lower level will hold the expanded Student Performance Center—this includes the Cabaret, a black box theater, dressing rooms, a green room, two studios, three rehearsal rooms, a set construction space, and a lounge, according to the email.

The email also noted that the college will continue negotiating leases to fill six retail spaces on the first floor of Little Building.

“I think we are all waiting for the day where we don’t have to keep updating our construction projects anymore,” Guida said. “At least when that day comes, we will come out of this with some great spaces for students, most of which are very student-centered.”