Although construction of a Starbucks in Gelman Library will begin this month, University officials said the coffee shop may not open until next semester.
The construction project, which involves the installation of the coffee shop in the library’s first-floor 24-hour reading room, has gutted the space. The area will be left unusable until the project is completed.
To make way for the Starbucks, GW will be installing air conditioning, electricity and wiring until Nov. 1, when Starbucks will start putting in a shop.
“The University part of the construction will be completed by November,” said Andrea Stewart, Gelman’s assistant librarian for administrative development and personnel. “And, we’re hoping that Starbucks will be finished before finals, though early January is more likely.”
But while Stewart said that the project was running smoothly, the construction of the Starbucks, which will seat 46 patrons, has raised some concerns about study space being lost to renovations.
“We’re going to monitor that situation very carefully,” Stewart said. “And, we will continue talking with the Student Association and the Gelman student liaison office to determine if extra capacity is necessary.”
“We know we’re going to add some space, we don’t know how soon,” he added.
SA President Omar Woodard said that in anticipation of the reading room’s closing, the SA has been working to add extra study space in Thurston Hall and the diner in the Hall on Virginia Avenue, both freshman dormitories.
“But, the big problem with this project is the construction and noise all semester,” Woodard said. “Students will see a construction site and not see a Starbucks.”
Damien Gardner, the library’s student liaison, said while the construction will present noise problems, steps are being taken to limit the renovation’s impact on students.
“We’re working to confine (construction) to off-peak hours,” he said. “Also, if necessary, we are prepared to open the sixth floor to 24-hour access as well.”
The plan to add a Starbucks to the Gelman dates back to last spring, when University officials began talking with the popular coffee chain about opening up a new franchise. After construction, the Gelman Starbucks will be the third on campus, with one already located in the Marvin Center and one recently opened in 1957 E Street.
The decision to put a Starbucks in the library was based on student demand, which Gardner said warranted opening the third of such a venue on campus.
“In my opinion, it is very redundant to have another Starbucks on campus, but if a market is there – and I believe it is – then there should be as many as demand will support,” he said.
Gardner added that the hours of operation for the new facility have not been determined. In a previous article, University librarian Jack Siggins said Starbucks would not be open 24 hours. The J Street Starbucks closes at 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and midnight during the weekend.
Unlike the Starbucks Coffee located in the Marvin Center, the library’s coffee shop will be operated by the Starbucks Corporation and not Aramark, which runs the majority of GW’s on-campus dining venues.
Though University officials refused to comment on how much the new Starbucks will cost, Siggins was previously quoted in The Hatchet as saying the venue would come with a half-million dollar price tag.
Stewart, the associate librarian, said a revenue sharing agreement between Starbucks and GW will be put into effect to pay for books, shelves, desks and other library supplies.
Some students hailed plans to open the coffee house as a benefit to the GW community.
“Any Starbucks is excellent,” freshman Adriana Ingenito said. “The more the better.”
Freshman Dave Nathan said that while he is not a “big fan” of the popular shop, he said student demand should dictate the construction of a new location.
“I guess if everyone likes it, then we should have another one,” he said.
This article appeared in the September 1, 2004 issue of the Hatchet.