By Lily Sperber
The Hub will be closing for the remainder of the semester on March 20 for further construction.
The news first came earlier this week when several students were informed by Hub employees that the dining area would be closing and that its food options would be available at other dining areas on campus.
According to Patrick Savolskis, executive director of the Purchase College Association, the closure is happening due to the contract for the construction project ending soon, as well as a delay in the delivery of necessary parts.
“After talking it through with our construction consultants and our dining staff, we realized the safest plan to make without wasting more money is to shut the facility down,” said Savolskis. “As these parts come in, they can drop them in because they don’t have to worry about trying to keep part of the Hub open. It wasn’t the plan that we set out, but we’re kind of stuck because we don’t physically have the equipment that we need.”
Parts for the construction are coming from multiple places, including China as well as certain states within the U.S., and their delivery and creation are being hindered by the Coronavirus.
“There were already delays, and this virus is adding to the troubles in that regard,” Savolskis said. “Part of it was out of our control; I’m not blaming the virus, but it’s a part of the whole puzzle.”
An email that went out to students on Jan. 16 from the Purchase College Association stated that “The Hub will remain open during construction this semester.” This was followed by the mention of phase 3 of construction that would occur later in the semester after the first 2, which were changes in seating and a portion of the Hub being walled off.
“Stage 3 would’ve been where we reopened the part of the Hub that is closed now and also doing some of the furnishings and fixtures,” said Savolskis. “It’s still going to happen, but now it’s almost a moot point because I think most people will be getting out of here, and I’m still not a hundred percent sure what that’ll mean for us.”
If the parts had arrived on time, the Hub would have remained open, but been moved, in a limited capacity, to the space that is walled off now. Since the currently open part of the Hub requires work to be completed before the contract is up in May, the Hub is being shut down now to allow enough time for the work to be completed despite the delay.
In terms of student concerns over why the work on the Hub wasn’t completed during the summer, Savolskis said that they tried to do this, but an increased budget would have been necessary.
“We bid it out for two summers; the most recent one we were expecting bids around $2.7 million,” said Savolskis. “The lowest we got was $5.5 million.”
The reason for the high cost was because the summer months are a time when many construction projects are done in many places, leading costs to increase.
“In the summertime, it’s hard to get labor because everyone has got projects at schools and in other places,” Savolskis said. “We talked to a couple of people, and they said that if you can do it during the school year, you’ll get it cheaper. We put the bids out and they came back cheaper, so we could do the project. That’s why we are going in during the term.”
Once construction is complete in May, the Hub will be expanded with more variability in terms of concepts for food options.
“One week we could have a pasta station and the next week be doing stir-fry, it gives us more flexibility,” said Savolskis. “All the cooking stations are being brought out front more. More food will be made in front of you. The flow pattern won’t be like a maze-like it is now, and there will be more floor space. It’s basically everything we have currently, just reoriented.”
Once the Hub closes on March 20, changes in hours and food options will be coming to both the Main Dining Hall and Terra Ve.
“The Main Dining Hall will be running until late night, and if you’re a student here, or faculty or staff, you will just pay six bucks to come in for all you care to eat,” Savolskis said. “Late night will run until the same time the Hub was open till, and you’ll have basically everything you had at the Hub at the Main Dining Hall.”
Additionally, students will have alternative options for eating and paying six dollars.
“We’re going to give every student a free green container if they want it,” said Savolskis. “You pay the six bucks, fill the container up with as much as you want, and go. Also, if you only want to buy a soda, you can go upstairs to the grab-and-go and buy a soda and not pay the six bucks.”
Just like the green container program works now, each student will be given a container that they can return for a clean one with each visit they make to the Main Dining Hall.
To further accommodate students during this time, Terra Ve will also have limited hours on the weekends, alongside their weekday hours.
“Once people see the Hub, and I think they will react well to it,” Savolskis said. “To be fair, the Hub is currently past its prime. From an equipment and service standpoint, it should be better. If you improve the environment, people’s perception of the food goes up and they’re happier with it.”