Schenectady County Community College is adding a cafe and convenience store inside Elston Hall to revitalize a long-dormant space and provide students — especially those in the housing across the street — with a place to get a quick bite to eat.
The college is seeking bids from construction management firms for a project to renovate a 3,000-square-foot space that formerly housed the student commons and lounge in the building. In addition to the convenience store and cafe, which would have wireless Internet, the space would also include an office, outdoor patio, rest rooms and storage. A new sidewalk would connect to the new space.
SCCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said it is an exciting project that will benefit the college.
“It will provide a much-needed service for the residential students and bring a piece of Schenectady history back to life.”
The space, which is located near the president’s office, has been dormant and closed off to the public, according to Murphy McGraw.
“The lights have been shut off for years; nobody has given it a second thought,” she said.
It was formerly a bar in the old Van Curler Hotel, which was turned over to the college more than 40 years ago. There is still a mahogany bar there.
“The Van Curler Hotel was so important to our community,” Murphy McGraw said. “I still meet people all the time who say ‘I was married at the Van Curler Hotel.’ To be able to restore yet another part of that, I’m so proud.”
Earlier this year, SCCC won a preservation award from the Schenectady Heritage Foundation for its restoration of the facade and portico at the Washington Street entrance, which was in disrepair and sections of it unstable.
Murphy McGraw added that it this new cafe and convenience store will be especially convenient for the residential students living in the new College Suites at Washington Square across the street.
The Faculty Student Association has retained the Albany-based ENVISION Architects to design this project and needs a construction manager to help control costs and move the project toward design and construction.
Bids are due on Oct. 10. Murphy McGraw hopes the project can be completed by the end of the school year. There is not a firm deadline in the bid.
Use of the cafe and convenience store won’t be limited to college students and faculty, according to SCCC President Quintin Bullock
“This space will provide an additional resource for students to purchase the necessary items needed for their living spaces, as well as a gathering place for students to meet and study with their peers,” he said in a press release.