Thursday, September 20, 2007

Boston College to Submit IMPA This Fall -- Prior to Submitting New Master Plan

Boston College has recently completed their transaction to purchase the remaining land of the former St. John's Seminary from the Archdiocese of Boston. The purchase also included Bishop Peterson Hall (mid-20th century extension to the historic St. John's Hall) and the Library.

Since these two buildings are not currently part of Boston College's approved Institutional Master Plan from 2000 (as amended with an IMPA in 2006), BC must apply to extend their institutional master plan area to the buildings and allow their occupancy for institutional use. They wish to do some significant interior renovations to both buildings, too.

As a result, BC legal counsel Joe Herlihy announced at Tuesday's BC Task Force meeting that they will be submitting "in the next few weeks" an Institutional Master Plan Amendment to allow renovations of these two buildings and permit their institutional use. He said that BC would not be pursuing an expedited review process, but instead will follow the standard timeline defined in the Article 80 review process. BRA project manager John Fitzgerald said that the initial comment period (following the IMPANF) is 30 days, and the later comment period (following the DPIR) is 60 days, so the full process will take a minimum of three months.

BC's full, 10-year IMP will be filed later in the fall, possibly overlapping a bit with the approval process of the IMPA.

Bishop Peterson Hall will now be used for offices and classrooms of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, which is re-affiliating with BC; WJST students will continue to reside in Cambridge and commute to the Brighton Campus for classes. The 2006 IMPA approved St. Williams Hall for these WJST offices and classrooms. It appears as though St. Williams Hall will no longer have an approved institutional use during the time period between approval of the upcoming IMPA and the later IMP; their plan is for office space. Housing for the WJST seminarians will also be deferred to the IMP. BC's goal is to get quick approval of a largely renovation project that will likely not be controversial, while deferring possibly controversial projects (that may slow down the approval process) to the IMP.

The WJST has 18 faculty, 15 staff, and 140 students who will be using Bishop Peterson Hall. The current occupants of the building are overflow offices from the Archdiocese's Chancery, who will be moving to Braintree, so there will not be an increase in density of workers between Bishop Peterson and St. John's Halls.

The Library will also be renovated, and will then be jointly used by the St. John's Seminary and the WJST. It requires HVAC mechanical upgrades, code updates, and ADA-compliant updates.

The meeting also included a discussion of the student behavior plan and its enforcement during the first three weekends of the school year. I will defer that information for a future post.

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