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William & Mary agrees to purchase Williamsburg Hospitality House

  • Hospitality House
    Hospitality House  William & Mary has agreed to purchase the Williamsburg Hospitality House and plans to use the building to address critical space needs for student housing and on-campus parking.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Facility will provide W&M additional student housing and parking

William & Mary has agreed to purchase the Williamsburg Hospitality House and plans to use the building to address critical space needs for student housing and on-campus parking, the administration announced today. 

“This purchase is great news. Among our most pressing space needs are parking and student housing on campus,” said President Taylor Reveley. “This property helps provide long-term solutions for these needs.”

Sam Jones, vice president for finance, said the Commonwealth of Virginia has authorized 20-year bonds to support the purchase and any needed renovations. He added that the state requires auxiliary enterprise activities like residence halls to be self-supporting. The bonds for the new residential building will be repaid through student housing fees, Jones said, so this project will not divert funds from any other William & Mary priorities.

The Richmond Road property sits on 3.6 acres just steps from campus and includes 318 rooms, 20,000 square feet in conference space, two restaurants and 370 parking spaces, including a 308-space parking garage. William & Mary expects to close on the purchase in late-May, following the 2013 Commencement weekend. Families who booked rooms for W&M’s Commencement weekend should not be impacted.

“The Hospitality House has been a good property for our company”, stated Gene Lucas, President of Texas-based 1859 Historic Hotels, the owner of the Hospitality House. “At the same time we understand the College’s need for additional student housing.  Its location makes it ideal for this purpose. We are pleased to have partnered with William & Mary to make this happen.”

William & Mary is planning how best to use the building as a residence hall while supporting other space needs of the university. In the near-term, the facility will significantly reduce the waitlist for students looking for space next year in the residence halls, said Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler.

“We are very excited about the possibilities,” Ambler said. “Campus living is highly valued by our students, and for as long as I can remember, the demand for housing has far exceeded our supply. This purchase will greatly reduce the number of students who are wait-listed for college housing each year.”

The university expects to have the building ready to house students for the beginning of the fall 2013 semester. In the short term, a portion of the rooms will be used as swing space for residence life so major renovations can occur at other residence halls.

“This space allows us to take a residence hall offline while we do badly needed renovations,” said Vice President for Administration Anna Martin. Martin said 151-bed Chandler Hall is next up for renovation and that project includes a full interior and exterior renovation. “Having additional rooms available is essential. It will allow us to address critical concerns with our current residence halls, including adding air conditioning to buildings at a much quicker pace.”

William & Mary is currently inspecting the building to determine renovation needs, said Jones. Once that review is complete, he said, the university will have a better idea on the total number of students that will be housed at the property and can plan for how other spaces can best be used.

“When you think about a lack of available space on or near campus – as well as student housing, parking and other campus needs -- this purchase was straight-forward from the university’s point of view,” Jones said. “This is a tremendous deal for William & Mary.”