Students will move into new apartments in downtown Gambier next semester, and the Village Market is on schedule to move to its new location in June, as renovation work in downtown Gambier continues.
After that, major work begins on Farr Hall. The Kenyon Bookstore will move into the space vacated by the Village Market and Gambier Deli and will remain there from July to November as crews renovate the space the bookstore has occupied for decades.
The downtown renovations are part of a long-term plan that has already improved accessibility on Middle Path and will add student housing and retail space.
"Watching the scaffolding and walls rise up from village ground is generating a great deal of excitement among students,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Harper Bonham ’92.
The new Village Market building will house the grocery on the first floor and apartments for 12 students on upper floors — a total of 9,950 new square feet when adding together all the living spaces, the market and the basement the market will use for storage. It sits at the corner of Brooklyn Street and Chase Avenue, where an old bank building once housed the Black Box Theater; a new Black Box opened on the northern end of campus in January.
The design of the new market will allow delivery trucks to use the alley between the building and gas station, said Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman. Semitrailer trucks making deliveries will park on Brooklyn, parallel to the new building, and traffic will be able to pass around the trucks.
Two new buildings behind Farr Hall are part of the College’s plan to replace the 34 beds now in Farr Hall with a total of 54 new beds downtown. The two buildings will each house eight students in units similar to the North Campus Apartments. These buildings will become the new homes of Unity House and the Snowden Multicultural Center.
Bonham said, “The centrality of Unity and Snowden will make tangible Kenyon’s commitment to equity and inclusion, in keeping with the Kenyon 2020 Plan. There is an enormous benefit to co-locating these programs, since the close physical proximity to each other and to the Crozier Center for Women will encourage greater synergy and partnership for student-led diversity initiatives.”
The renovation to the south end of Farr Hall, which includes part of the bookstore, will update the bookstore, relocate some offices and eliminate a stairwell. Angus MacDonell, general manager of the bookstore, said floor plans are still being designed, but the hope is to relocate the food and beverage section within the store to accommodate a new elevator and additional public restrooms.
“Right now, our books are scattered across different sections. I want to create a bookstore within the bookstore — a destination within the store experience where all the books will be together and the space will be very comfortable,” MacDonell said. “We will maintain the study and meeting areas for the students because they like them so much.”
Later this month the College will seek approval from Gambier’s Village Planning and Zoning Commission to remake the facade of the bookstore with new windows and to make an addition to its second floor that will add offices for College staff.
The bookstore’s temporary location in the north end of Farr Hall will be about 1,500 square feet smaller than its permanent home. Some stock may go into storage during the renovation, and other items will be more efficiently packaged, MacDonell said. The reconstruction will affect the ATM in Farr Hall, so a freestanding ATM will be placed in the temporary bookstore location.
After the bookstore returns to the renovated space, crews will demolish the northern two-thirds of Farr Hall to make way for up to three new buildings with retail space facing Gaskin Avenue and new student apartments on the upper floors. Demolition of Farr is expected to begin at the end of the fall semester and last about three weeks, Kohlman said.
During the Farr Hall renovations, the Gambier Deli will suspend operations for a year, and food trucks may park on Chase to provide more food options during that time. The deli will likely close the third weekend of June and return in the summer of 2018 in a newly designed space, Kohlman said.