The recent closings of College-owned properties on Spring Street have drawn attention to the need to fill these voids, the general direction that business development is heading on Spring Street and the needs of the local community and the College. A proposal taking shape seeks to build a College-owned boutique hotel at the end of Spring Street that would occupy the lot of the current American Legion Post building. We at the Record see the potential benefits of additional housing for alumni, families and visitors right next to campus. We also recognize, however, that there are already many options nearby. We hope that the administration considers this when deciding how to develop the land at the end of Spring Street. We also hope that the administration will poll the student body for input as the proposals continue to develop.
The Record recognizes the potential benefits of having a boutique hotel conveniently located in the heart of campus – in close proximity to cultural centers like MASS MoCA and the Clark Art Institute. The Clark’s ongoing multi-million dollar renovations will most likely draw greater numbers of visitors to Williamstown, which means that additional housing options will likely be in demand. Additionally, most of the existing hotels in the area are older and are considered somewhat outdated. Having a new, recently built and uniquely designed hotel could therefore appeal to a different audience. Likewise, it could be a nice gathering place for alumni visiting campus. Occasionally, the College makes accommodations for alumni at Mount Hope. However, the transportation and upkeep costs for housing alumni at Mount Hope are relatively high. A new boutique hotel on campus could create a more cost-effective and convenient option for alumni housing. Lastly, many families find themselves denied reservations at local hotels due to limited occupancy, so additional rooms could come in handy around peak visiting weekends.
However, we do not want the College to commit to this decision if we already have hospitality options. Although we can see how a boutique hotel is different, it would create a service already offered by many other local businesses, and might compete with those businesses. Additionally, a boutique hotel does not directly benefit the student population. We believe that the student body should have a voice in which businesses the College open and hope that the administration will poll the student body and community to give both populations the chance to offer input. We at the Record are excited to see that the College is revamping Spring Street, but hope that it will take the time to assess what students, faculty, staff and community members believe should be brought to campus.