Col­lege projects in the works

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Christina Tatu Christina Tatu can be reached at 610-820-6583 or [email protected]

Lafayette Col­lege pro­vides up­dates on stu­dent hous­ing, a new restau­rant, pedes­trian im­prove­ments and a scenic over­look.

Lafayette Col­lege of­fi­cials will start in­stalling the structural steel skele­ton of the col­lege’s 165-bed, mixed-use stu­dent res­i­dence hall on McCart­ney Street next week.

While it’s Lafayette most vis­i­ble project, the dor­mi­tory isn’t the only devel­op­ment res­i­dents of Eas­ton will no­tice in the com­ing months.

There are also plans for a restau­rant at the base of Col­lege Hill on North Third Street, pro­posed by the owner of Don Juan Mex Grill; a new hub for the Eas­ton Emergency Squad in the for­mer Ri­neck Rope Com­pany on Bushkill Drive, and a new build­ing with ground-floor re­tail and apart­ments on the up­per floors to re­place a col­le­ge­owned home that was de­mol­ished in the 100 block of Cat­tell Street.

Also pro­posed are a scenic over­look above down­town Eas­ton with seat­ing to re­place four Lafayette-owned houses at 156, 160, 166 and 168 Col­lege Av­enue, and pedes­trian im­prove­ments at the base of Col­lege Hill on North Third Street.

Lafayette re­cently com­pleted its $75 mil­lion Rock­well In­te­grated Sci­ence Cen­ter, which will be open to stu­dents when classes start Mon­day.

Long-term, the col­lege wants to in­crease its stu­dent pop­u­la­tion by 400 over the next eight years, which means adding more stu­dent beds, but also ameni­ties to help the col­lege at­tract new stu­dents.

Col­lege of­fi­cials dis­cussed those projects and other goals dur­ing a com­mu­nity up­date Wed­nes­day night at the Hugel Sci­ence Cen­ter on cam­pus.

“We want to be ap­peal­ing to the stu­dents of the fu­ture in a very com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment and we want to have the re­sources to sup­port them,” Lafayette Col­lege Pres­i­dent Ali­son By­erly told the crowd.

“It’s been a dif­fi­cult time for higher ed­u­ca­tion,” she said, not­ing the num­ber of high school stu­dents go­ing to col­lege has de­creased and smaller col­leges across the country have had dif­fi­culty at­tract­ing new stu­dents.

If Lafayette can grow its stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, it will be able to pro­vide fi­nan­cial aid for those who would oth­er­wise be un­able to af­ford the school’s tu­ition.

This school year will wel­come a class of 700 in­com­ing fresh­men.

“That’s ex­actly the num­ber we were look­ing for, but it’s very im­por­tant that we look at the ed­u­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence we of­fer to stay com­pet­i­tive,” By­erly said.

In ad­di­tion, Lafayette set up a Eas­ton Com­mu­nity Part­ners group, though By­erly said the group will not meet to specif­i­cally dis­cuss Col­lege Hill, which some mem­bers of the crowd were an­tic­i­pat­ing.

The group, which in­cludes city of­fi­cials and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity, will con­vene for the first time in mid-Septem­ber. Mem­bers will talk about city­wide is­sues and how the col­lege can be in­volved, By­erly said.

Some mem­bers of the au­di­ence asked about Lafayette’s pur­chases of prop­erty on Col­lege Hill and how the com­mu­nity can be up­dated of those evolv­ing plans.

“When we have ac­quired prop­erty, it is be­cause it is strate­gi­cally lo­cated where we think fac­ulty and staff would want to have hous­ing,” By­erly said. “I think we have been pretty straight­for­ward that it has been for the pur­pose of hous­ing. We don’t have any blocks of prop­erty that we in­tend to use for any other use.”

Com­ing to Col­lege Hill

A restau­rant: Lo­cated in a for­mer stu­dent night­club The Spot, across from Wil­liam C. Buck Hall arts cen­ter, said Lafayette’s Vice Pres­i­dent for Fi­nance and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Roger De­mareski. The project is pro­posed by the owner of Don Juan Mex Grill.

Rinek Rope: The col­lege owns the his­toric fac­tory on Bushkill Drive and in­tends to re­store it for its fa­cil­ity sup­port depart­ment. It will also in­clude a civil en­gi­neer­ing lab and a sec­ond

sta­tion for the Eas­ton Emergency Squad, which has its head­quar­ters on Packer Street on the South Side. North Third Street pedes­trian im­prove­ments: Lafayette Col­lege and the city re­ceived two grants worth $4.5 mil­lion. They will be used to make pedes­trian im­prove­ments along Cat­tell Street and at the base of Col­lege Hill. Plans in­clude new light­ing, side­walks and curbs. There will be a me­dian is­land in­stalled at North Third Street near Wil­liam C. Buck Hall to make for safer pedes­trian cross­ing. 100 block of Cat­tell Street:

This sin­gle-fam­ily home on the cor­ner of Cat­tell and Clin­ton Ter­race was in poor con­di­tion when the col­lege ac­quired it and was re­cently de­mol­ished, De­mareski said. There are plans to re­place it with a sim­i­lar size build­ing that would have ground-floor re­tail and apart­ments above, though it’s not yet clear how many units.

Stu­dent hous­ing: Structural steel will start go­ing up next week for Lafayette’s 165-bed, mixed-use res­i­dence hall on McCart­ney Street. The devel­op­ment, which will in­clude a diner on the cor­ner of March and McCart­ney streets and a book­store on the cor­ner of High Street, will be fin­ished next fall.

It is the first phase of stu­dent hous­ing planned over the next eight years.

The sec­ond phase would be con­structed on McCart­ney Street be­tween March Street and Clin­ton Ter­race.

A third phase would re­place ex­ist­ing dor­mi­to­ries at Wat­son Courts.

There is no set time­line for the next two phases of stu­dent hous­ing, De­mareski said. In to­tal, there would be 400 new stu­dent beds by the time all three projects are fin­ished.

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

Lafayette Col­lege is in the process of tear­ing down four homes at the en­trance of Col­lege Hill. The homes are at 156, 160, 166 and 168 Col­lege Ave. A scenic over­look above down­town Eas­ton, with seat­ing, is pro­posed to re­place the houses.

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