Smith College plans student housing, health facility

Last modified: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

NORTHAMPTON — Smith College is moving ahead with plans to build new student housing along Paradise Road not far from the college Quadrangle and a student health center across campus near the Olin Fitness Center.

The college first must win permission from the city of Northampton to demolish three buildings: the Mason Infirmary at 69 Paradise Road, the Sunnyside Child Care center at 70 Paradise Road and a vacant home at 66 Paradise Road known as the F. Dwight Drury house.

Spokeswoman Kristen Cole said the college has filed for demolition permits for those buildings, plus an additional rental house across campus at 16 Arnold Ave.

The Historical Commission will hold a public hearing Monday to determine whether the old day care facility, built in 1886, and the vacant home, built in 1887, should be preserved. Such a determination would delay demolition for up to a year. The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building.

The commission has already decided not to preserve the infirmary building because it does it fit with the character of the neighborhood, said Sarah LaValley, land use and conservation planner for the city.

The new student housing, to be built where the day care and Drury house are located, is expected to replace the 52-unit Friedman apartment complex off Elm Street between Round Hill Road and Henshaw Avenue.

Cole said designs have yet to be completed for the housing. Construction is scheduled to begin next summer at the earliest and be completed by August 2015.

Meanwhile, Sunnyside Child Care is wrapping up its summer program and will relocate next month to 557 Easthampton Road, the home of the former Dances with Dogs pet care center. The center is scheduled to open Aug. 26.

Plans also call for a new health facility to replace the college’s existing one once the infirmary is torn down. The new facility will be constructed across campus off Belmont Avenue near the Olin Fitness Center. It is expected to open in August 2014.

As for the Arnold Avenue property, the city’s Historical Commission chose not to rule it is one to “preferably preserve.” This paves the way for the college to tear it down and convert the site to green space, as it has done with several other properties in the area.

Cole said tenants were given more than a year’s notice about the project and they have the option to relocate to others college-owned apartments.

The new development comes on the heels of several other demolition projects at Smith. The college recently tore down the former Green Street Cafe building, next to Ford Hall, at 66 Green St., and converted the site to green space as part of a long-term expansion plan.

About a year ago, the college tore down two buildings at 21 and 27 Belmont Ave. following a one-year demolition delay imposed by the Historical Commission.

The Green Street area has undergone a dramatic change as part of the college’s effort to accommodate its engineering program, most notably with the completion of Ford Hall in 2009. The project required the demolition of four college-owned apartment buildings on Belmont and Arnold avenues and two buildings on Green Street that had been in college use.


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