Saturday, 2:15 PM
Citing tough economy, Northeastern shelves dorm plan
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Northeastern University has shelved plans for a 600-student dormitory amid a severe crunch in credit markets, in the latest sign of the economic downturn's impact on college campuses.
A university spokesman said today the university has indefinitely postponed the St. Botolph Street project, originally slated to begin next summer.
"In the current economic climate, all institutions are re-evaluating upcoming capital projects," said Mike Armini, who said the project would be on hold "while we continue to assess the uncertainty in global financial markets."
The building had been scheduled to open in 2011 as part of Northeastern's push to house more of its students on campus. The university agreed to build additional dormitories as part of an agreement with neighbors and city officials in 2004.
Despite the credit crunch, Northeastern will be able to complete construction of a high-rise dormitory at Tremont and Ruggles streets in Roxbury by next summer, Armini said.
A range of colleges in recent weeks have delayed construction projects and announced budget cuts and hiring freezes to offset substantial losses to their endowments. Many are conducting stem-to-stern budget reviews, looking to scale back spending in anticipation of a prolonged downturn.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced this week it would delay renovation to an undergraduate dormitory as part of an effort to trim its budget by 10 percent to 15 percent in the next two or three years.
"The continuing uncertainty about the length and depth of the economic downturn makes accurate predictions impossible," MIT President Susan Hockfield wrote in a letter to the MIT community. "However, we must take action now to plan for a protracted period of financial constraint."
Harvard University, facing a projected 30 percent decline in the value of its endowment, said last week it was re-evaluating its expansion plans in Allston. Earlier this fall, Boston University instituted a hiring freeze and a moratorium on all construction projects that are not already underway.
Kelly Brilliant, director of the Fenway Alliance, said the delay in the Northeastern dorm project, while understandable given the state of the economy, was unfortunate.
"It's too bad," she said. "They have been making a good effort to house more of their students, which the neighborhood certainly supports."