Alumnae celebrate start of construction

An official groundbreaking ceremony initiated the first phase of Mount Vernon campus construction Tuesday as Mount Vernon alumnae, area residents and members of the GW community participated in the event.

This is a great day for me, GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said. This (campus) could easily have ended up a housing unit . (or) worse, a housing complex owned by Georgetown University.

The groundbreaking is the culmination of months of work following protracted disputes between Mount Vernon and the surrounding Foxhall community. A final mediated settlement was reached last December, in which the two groups agreed to a 10-year plan for construction on the campus.

Phase one of the planned construction will include an addition of 183 beds to Somers Residence Hall and the creation of a new Whitehaven Parkway entrance to handle increased traffic on W Street from campus expansion.

The phase will also bring a soccer and lacrosse field to meet NCAA standards, a new NCAA-compliant softball field and 12 new tennis courts, as well as a new 175-car underground parking facility.

During phase two, new Hillside residence halls will replace Cole, Clark and Hensley halls. Phase three will bring the replacement for Pelham Hall.

Speakers at the ceremony honored the history of Mount Vernon and looked forward to a future of continued campus improvements and increased integration between the two campuses.

Events like this bring the love of an institution to its full expression, Mount Vernon Executive Dean Grae Baxter said. Baxter said she felt excitement to see the campus come back to life and regain its dignity.

Attending alumnae of Mount Vernon expressed excitement at the developments on campus.

The soul of Mount Vernon has always been alive and it’s been through a lot of changes.(including) today, which may constitute (MVC’s) greatest moment in its partnership with GW, said Cissy Baker, Mount Vernon alumna and University trustee.

Ross, a Mount Vernon alumna from the last graduating class, expressed her satisfaction.

It’s good to see money finally getting put into the campus, Ross said. It’s been needed for a long time.

Students also contributed to the groundbreaking. The Pitches, GW’s only all-women a cappella group, sang a rendition of 10,000 Maniacs’ song These Are Days.

Baxter said construction will occur primarily on the back of campus, away from residential and academic activity, and should have minimal impact on the community.

Members of the Mount Vernon community concluded the event by using gold shovels to symbolically begin the construction process.

This is long overdue, and I’m thrilled, Trachtenberg said. I look forward to the ribbon cutting when we finally finish these facilities and put them into use for our students.

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