After years of debate and discussion, an on-campus hotel to be placed at the main entrance of Stony Brook University has been approved by the University Senate.
The current proposal calls for a five-story building to accommodate 135 rooms, a 5000 square foot conference center, an indoor pool, and a restaurant, exercise facility and sundry shop.
The structure itself would be a predominantly brick building much like the Humanities building, and located nearby. It will be built opposite the Administration building parking garage, on the far side of Circle Road.
A private company, like Holiday Inn or Marriott, would run the hotel, but exactly which company will be operating the hotel has yet to be formally announced. Because the hotel would be on state property, a ground lease had to be acquired before any private corporation could pursue building.
Plans for a hotel on campus have been discussed and debated for years, but have never been actively pursued until now because of various concerns raised by faculty, staff and community members over the environmental and aesthetic impact a new structure would have.
The Campus Environment Committee was informed of the decision, made formally by President Samuel L. Stanley at the University Senate meeting on October 5, on Tuesday, and the reaction was largely negative.
“We’re disappointed in the decision,” said newly elected committee chair John Robinson.
The committee has been keenly aware of the proposal to build an on-campus hotel for years, and has fought the plans on several fronts. Malcolm Bowman, another member of the committee, addressed the concern surrounding the location of the hotel.
“It seems like there was never a serious effort to get another ground lease,” he said, speaking of the current lease that has already been approved by the state. “[The committee] has consistently opposed a hotel at the entrance to the university.”
Unless the university files for another ground lease elsewhere on campus, the current location will be the only possible option for a privately owned hotel.
Amy Provenzano, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship at Stony Brook University, assured the committee members that their concerns had been taken into account when the floor plans for the hotel were drawn up and approved by President Stanley.
“The university has been very supportive and has listened to the committee,” she said.
The university indeed has commissioned an environmental impact study for the proposal, and Provenzano says that the hotel “[would] be built sustainably.”
But the current plans do not call for the hotel to meet LEED standards, a rating system that measures the environmental sustainability of construction projects. Former President Shirley Strum Kenny had previously stated that all new university buildings—though not necessarily non-university buildings like a privately owned hotel—would be built to LEED Silver, the lowest rating in the system.
The hotel would be accessible from Circle Road, directly across from the back entrance of the Administration building parking lot. At five stories, it would likely be visible from Nicolls Road and certainly be visible from the main entrance to the West Campus, a fact that concerned members of the Campus Environment Committee.
While the hotel plans will be moving forward, smaller details about the new building are still being debated, including the placement of signage and the exact amount of open space provided. A parking lot that circles the hotel would be buffered by green space.
When asked just how far along the plans are for the new hotel, and whether the hotel will be happening one way or another, Provenzano responded simply: “yes.”