Mount Vernon’s Pelham may be renovated

Mount Vernon’s Pelham Hall is the next residence hall slated for renovation, a project the University expects to start and finish in the next two to three years.

Pelham Hall houses about 80 students in single rooms with communal bathrooms. The University has proposed that Pelham Hall II differ a great deal in design from the existing Pelham Hall. Rather than individual singles, the new building will house students in single rooms within larger suites.

“The concept for the new residence hall will be a hybrid dorm-apartment configuration. There will be four single rooms with a common living area and bath, but kitchens will not be included in the rooms, said Director of Media Relations Tracy Schario.

The University’s goal is to build a residence hall that has approximately 300 bed spaces, said Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel, adding that this shift will increase the number of bed spaces at Mount Vernon by about 200 and thus bring the number of residents living on the Mount Vernon campus up to about 700 students.

“Pelham does not create a great sense of community now; we feel that a new building will create this sense,” Siegel said.

He added that the University expects this 200-bed addition to enhance communication between the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses by creating a more social atmosphere. The University also plans to enhance transportation and dining options for students living at Mount Vernon in conjunction with Pelham Hall’s renovation, but the University has not released any specific plans in regards to this matter.

The residence hall’s redevelopment is scheduled for completion by fall 2010, but the University said any number of delays could push the completion date back to fall 2011. Other GW building projects include construction of a new residence hall behind the School Without Walls and the development of Square 54, the lot that used to house the old hospital and now remains empty until plans for construction are approved.

“This project has been talked about for more than a year and we have been moving forward with discussions,” said Siegel. “With the local communities, the project has been discussed since the fall in a more formal way.”

Starting last fall, the University has held regular meetings to discuss preliminary ideas for renovation of Pelham Hall with members of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that oversees the area surrounding Mount Vernon’s campus.

“The Mount Vernon campus holds quarterly scheduled meetings for its neighbors, (and) at its fall 2006 meeting, a preliminary concept for the new building was discussed,” said Tracy Schario, director of Media Relations. “The University will continue to gather community input on the proposed redevelopment, which is named Pelham II.”

Siegel, who resides on the Mount Vernon campus, said he does not foresee many adverse effects for students on Mount Vernon regarding construction because of Pelham’s location.

“Pelham is on the opposite side of where everyone lives and studies, (thus) I cannot imagine that it would have too much of an effect,” Siegel said. “The (ropes course) might be affected but the soccer and lacrosse fields should not.”

The Mount Vernon campus’ ANC will continue to oversee Pelham Hall’s construction during their scheduled meetings.

Siegel said that “The residents want to ensure that it fits in with the setting (of their community, that there are minimal) issues with noise and that what they see from their homes is minimal.”

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