NEU dorm project still on hold

Partial demolition of the YMCA on Huntington Avenue for Northeastern University’s (NEU) new dorm is still on hold, almost certainly setting back the projected fall 2013 opening and possibly threatening the entire plan.

NEU needs the permission of the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) to begin the project, which involves proving that alternatives for the demolition won’t work.

According to a MHC letter addressed to dorm co-developer PPC Land Ventures, Inc. dated June 3, “[NEU’s] submittal did not include a good faith study of alternatives.”

That means NEU must keep consulting with the MHC until both parties agree to measures that would avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects on the YMCA, which is a historic building.

According to that letter, NEU disagreed with the MHC’s “determination of adverse effect for this project.”

The project cannot continue until NEU and the MHC reach that agreement.

NEU has been working on a response since receiving the letter, MHC spokesperson Brian McNiff told the Gazette.

“They’ve been consulting with the MHC and other groups [named in] that letter” in trying to reach that agreement, he said.

Copies of the letter were sent to development partners, other agencies and individuals, including the YMCA, the current owner of the proposed site; NEU; the BLC; and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

Calls to NEU and the YMCA were not answered by the Gazette’s deadline.

The GrandMarc at Northeastern project, located at 316 Huntington Ave., would allow NEU to create 720 new student beds.

In the current plan, PPC would purchase and demolish the YMCA’s gym building, then build a 17-story dorm tower in its place. PPC would then lease the dorm to NEU long-term.

Demolition was originally slated to begin June 15, but has been fraught with delays, first from the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) and now from the MHC.