NU dorm moves forward

January 13, 2012
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Northeastern University (NU) continues to work on finalizing the GrandMarc at Northeastern dorm project despite two ongoing lawsuits aimed at halting the project.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a deal done in the next several weeks,” said John Tobin, NU’s vice president of city and community affairs. “We’re working hard on the financing right now.”

The GrandMarc at Northeastern project, located at 316 Huntington Ave., would allow NU to keep its promise to Mission Hill residents of 600 more on-campus beds.

Under the proposed plan, developer PPC Land Ventures, Inc. would purchase and demolish the YMCA’s gym, then build a 17-story dorm tower in its place. PPC would then lease the dorm to NU long-term.

Demolition of the gym cannot begin until the suits are resolved.

The plaintiffs in the two lawsuits began the appeal process in November after their cases were dismissed due to lack of standing. The plaintiffs claim that the development team planned to circumvent zoning restrictions by having an institutional cover for a private development. Standing refers to the right to sue, not the merits of the arguments.

Judge Carol Ball, who heard both suits, noted in one of the rulings that “the plaintiff raises a number of troubling questions in her opposition” about the role the City of Boston Zoning Commission may have played in the project.

“We’re not in any rush” to accelerate the appeal, said Andre Jones, a Y member and the attorney in one of the suits. “I’m sure Northeastern and the developer are pulling out their hair right now, but I’m not.”

Demolition was originally scheduled to start in June, but the process has been held up by state and local agencies—and now the lawsuit—since March. No new demolition date has been set.

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