Hanover Inn to close for construction

by Emily Fletcher | 7/14/11 10:00pm

The Hanover Inn will close for four months starting in December for "accelerated" and comprehensive renovations, according to Paul Olsen, director of real estate for the College.

Although College officials originally hoped to keep the Inn open throughout the construction process, which will begin on Dec. 5, 2011,they later determined that construction would not be completed by Commencement in June 2012 if the Inn continued operating at its current pace, Olsen said. The project should be completed by April 12, 2012.

The complexity of the project, the short time period for renovations and the "tight space" of the Inn required a period of accelerated construction, he said.

Off-site catering, future bookings, security and administration of the Inn will continue during the renovation period, according to Olsen.

"The Inn's management company, Pyramid Hotel Group, is committed to keeping all regular staff employed throughout the renovation there will be no layoffs or furloughs," Vice President for Communications Roddy Young said in an email to The Dartmouth.

Because the Inn previously scheduled reservations for the months of closure, its staff will help those guests find accommodations elsewhere, Young said in the email.

The closure was scheduled during the Inn's least busy season, Olsen said.

Construction has so far been minimal, and has involved the addition of a fire escape at the back of Alumni Hall to allow the room to remain open during construction, Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin said.

Griffin also said the decision to close the Inn for four months "makes a lot of sense from the town's perspective" due to concerns about housing guests during construction.

"It's difficult to maintain any property, but particularly an accommodations property, when you're undergoing major renovations," she said.

The anticipated renovations will add 16 additional guest rooms, but will remove 20 restaurant seats, 85 outdoor restaurant seats and 47 meeting room seats. The project will add 11,963 square feet to the Inn, according to minutes from a March 22 Hanover Planning Board meeting.

"The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of the experience of the Hanover Inn in all dimensions," Olsen said.

The project received the necessary town approval in the spring, Olsen said. The College and the Town of Hanover also entered a memorandum, an "annual process by which the town and the College would come together to review data and monitor the health of parking in downtown" in the spring, she said.

The Planning Board is working with the College to address the potential increased demand for parking, according to Griffin.

Walker Parking Consultants, a Boston parking consulting firm that has worked with the Town of Hanover for about 15 years, will soon begin a comprehensive study, jointly funded by the College and the town, of how to address potential increases in parking demand, according to Hanover Planning and Zoning Director Jonathan Edwards.

"We need to quantify the issue before we can figure out practical things we can do to address it," Edwards said.

Due to the conditions of the spring agreements, the College must provide the parking study's results before the town will grant the necessary building permits for the Inn's planned renovation, Edwards said.

The renovations will centralize meeting spaces on the ground floor and lower level of the Inn, and convert the Daniel Webster Room on the first floor into a new "pre-function space," Olsen said. The meeting space will include two larger function rooms on the first floor and seven new conference spaces on the lower level.

The Inn's restaurants will also be relocated, according to Olsen. The Inn's main restaurant, currently named Zins, will move to the current location of the Hayward Lounge on the corner of Wheelock Street and Main Street and "will have visibility that restaurants have lacked in the past," Olsen said.

A second restaurant will be located in the space that Zins currently occupies, according to Olsen.

Meeting spaces currently situated on the second floor of the Inn and the third floor of the adjoining Lang Building, which also houses the Gap, will move to the ground floor and lower level of the Inn.

College office space currently located in the Lang Building will be moved elsewhere, and new guest rooms will occupy the vacated space, increasing the number of guest rooms from 93 to 109, Olsen said. Meeting spaces will no longer occupy floors with guest rooms.

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