Dorm construction to start soon, NU says

May 4, 2012
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Northeastern University (NU) officials say the controversial Grandmarc dorm project likely will start being constructed this summer, despite the fact two lawsuits are still pending.

The development partners “have finished the financial deal,” John Tobin, NU’s vice president of city and community affairs, told the Gazette last week. “We expect to close in the next 60 days, perhaps sooner.”

“We made a promise to the community and the City to get this done. We’re proceeding full steam ahead,” he said.

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

In a separate but related project, YMCA officials also plan to demolish a corner of the historic building at 316 Huntington Ave. The Y would build a slightly bigger addition as part of extensive renovations funded by income generated from the dorm deal. The addition would house a new pool and gym.

Tobin added that he expects construction to start at some point this summer for a projected opening in fall 2014, a year later than originally planned.

Tobin would not comment on the details of the deal on the record.

Once the financials are secure, Tobin previously said, the work of separating the YMCA’s gym from its main building can begin. Separation must be complete before the gym can be demolished.

“It’s like [separating] Siamese twins,” Tobin said. “Any utility has to be separated. There’s going to be coordination [with the YMCA] the whole way through.”

Two lawsuits filed against the project are still under appeal in Superior Court.

The partners in this project “are trying to circumvent the lawsuits,” Andre Jones, a Y member and the attorney in one of the suits, said at a NU Task Force meeting last week.

“They’re going to start [separation and] demolition hoping the suits will be settled when it’s time to start construction,” Jones told the Gazette this week.

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