A construction team is busily “putting finishing touches” on an enclosed J Street patio officials said should combat the problem of “overcrowding” during busy dining hours. The $1.2 million project is set for completion by mid-October, about a month after the opening was first anticipated.
The 1,440 square foot patio, which previously included some outdoor seating, will be enclosed by 48 windows to make a year-round dining facility.
Associate Director of Marvin Center Operations Michael Brown said overcrowding has been a problem for a number of years, and adding 92 seats to J Street’s approximately 340 chairs will help solve it.
The inside of the patio, which Construction Manager Warren Yaun said
should be finished by mid-September, needs final work like primer painting and installation of chairs, tables and benches. Yaun said the 35 tables and accompanying chairs are currently being stored in the Marvin Center.
There will be bench seating along the wall opposite Starbucks.
Yaun said the patio’s set-up is “very similar to J Street’s,” and the color scheme is almost the same except that “the yellow and gold (paint used to paint the walls) are reversed a bit.” He also said the east and west walls will be painted white.
Workers are currently adding permanent shades that come down about halfway over the windows to “add some additional neutralization of the sun’s rays” but not block out the sun completely, Yaun said.
He said the custom-made shades are similar to the ones in the 3rd floor Grand Ballroom that opened in the spring, and look like “Venetian blinds.”
“It’s an architectural feature,” Yaun said. “They’re very nice.”
The outside area will also include a 960 square-foot open terrace and a 182-foot entry space, both of which will not be used for seating.
Yaun said students will enter the patio through Columbian Square, and that the whole outside area “is classified as an emergency stairwell.”
Workers are currently planting “a few” new trees on the terrace. They are also replacing the old slate steps with granite ones and finishing up work on the railings.
Yaun said the University is awaiting approval from the city to open the extension, which it should receive this month. Although Yaun said he does not foresee any problems, the permitting process is not always easy.
He said the District has received all of GW’s permits for the project and needs to approve its certificate of occupancy, which sometimes needs to be re-worked if the city and GW do not agree on the number of people a space can accommodate.
“We’re working on it going through smoothly,” Yaun said.
Yaun said he knows there are future Marvin Center renovations being discussed right now, but he is “hesitant” to discuss them at this time.
Brown said “students like the way (the extension looks),” and he has received no complaints about the change.
Most students also said they are happy that J Street will be less crowded.
“It’s a good idea because it’s a real inconvenience when you have no place to sit (when eating),” sophomore Jake Jopling said. “Some people try to avoid eating lunch at noon . I just care about having a place to eat lunch.”
Sophomore Chris Moulton said he is happy with the renovations because students can still eat outside at other locations on campus.
Some other students said they will miss the old patio.
“It was a chill spot,” senior Jake Navarro said. “We used to hang out there after meals. It was a get together spot in a sense.”
Brown noted that students can still dine al fresco on the 3rd Floor Marvin Center terrace, which has 14 tables that seat four people each and four picnic tables.