University officials finalized plans last week to expand the Mount Vernon Campus by renovating Pelham Hall and potentially building a full cafeteria.
The reconstruction, which is projected to begin in fall 2010, will require a complete demolition of the existing residence hall – to be replaced by a larger building that will house almost three times as many beds. Administrators said the proposal, which is under consideration by community leaders, is part of a broader effort to garner more interest in Mount Vernon.
“(The new Pelham) will help the campus to feel a little more like GW,” said Robert Snyder, director of Mount Vernon Campus Life and Marketing. He said that the new residence hall would reflect the condensed feeling of the Foggy Bottom campus while maintaining the intimate nature of Mount Vernon.
The new Pelham Hall would have suites with four singles connected to a shared bathroom and community area, said Dean of Freshmen Fred Siegel. The 78-bed residence is slated to expand to 287 beds. The new residence hall will also have space for student activity areas, though it will not have kitchens.
Siegel said the University is also considering adding a large dining hall to the basement of the new facility. Under the plan, Ames Dining Hall will be renovated and used for academic and student-life space.
The budget for expanding the Mount Vernon campus has increased about 50 percent since GW first started enlarging it in July 2003, Siegel said. He added that most donations have come from alumni.
Administrators presented a revised Mount Vernon Campus Plan to neighborhood residents at a zoning meeting Thursday night. Though reconstruction of Pelham Hall was included in the original plan, the latest project is farther-reaching and requires an amendment, said Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz.
The current Campus Plan limits the amount of students living on Mount Vernon to 1,000, of which about 90 percent are freshmen.
Some MVC neighbors in Georgetown said GW has been responsive to their requests, though they hope administrators keep the campus focused as an academic center.
Gary Groat, a resident who lives near Pelham Hall on Berkeley Terrace, expressed his concern about the future developments. He said, “Our hope is that the University is not going to use up every square foot (of the campus) for bedroom space.”
The Hatchet mistakenly reported in “Pelham construction to begin 2010” (April 9, p. 5), that reconstruction for the residence hall will begin in 2010. Construction is slated to begin in 2008, while occupancy is planned for 2010. In the same article, it was reported that a revised Mount Vernon Campus Plan was presented at a zoning meeting; a revised plan for Pelham Hall was discussed at a community meeting. The 25-percent budget increase since 2003 was not for the entire Mount Vernon Campus, but rather for The Vern Express shuttle service.