King's Turns Over a New Leaf with Greenwich Housing
Originally published in the EST WEEKLY, edition 25.
At a meeting in mid-February, The King’s College President (then Acting President) Tim Gibson compared certain aspects of the school’s mission to a Monopoly board. The best way to succeed in Monopoly is to acquire real estate, and King’s was planning to do just that.
Gibson announced the lease of new apartments at Albee Square in Brooklyn, and the plan to purchase the first housing building completely owned by the school in downtown Manhattan.
The building in question was a hotel—the Riff Downtown—and served as a promising space for the school. If the purchase went through successfully, the houses of Barton and Susan B. Anthony would move in to the new location.
But in the Manhattan game of Monopoly, nothing was guaranteed.
For months after the February meeting, however, the fate of Greenwich housing remained a mystery to most. Most notably, it remained a mystery to those that were supposed to be living there.
“I got accepted in December, and at that time I thought we’d be living in Hanover; I thought I’d have four roommates,” Lauren Bannister, an SBA freshman, said. “I think they told us about the new housing in March, and even after that we didn’t completely know what our situation was going to look like.”
Despite the uncertainty of housing, upperclassmen in SBA and Barton were given a back-up plan in case the purchase of Greenwich fell through. SBA girls would live in the West Street housing option, and Barton girls would continue to live in housing at 90 Washington Street.
“I think they told us about the new housing in March, and even after that we didn’t completely know what our situation was going to look like.”
-Lauren Bannister (SBA Freshman)
Over the next few months, upperclassmen in both houses prepared for the worst. They had a group of four roommates and picked a room at each back-up housing location.
But on the week of June 12, the purchase of King’s first housing building was complete. While this marked a great success for the school, it also presented a series of new challenges to prepare the building for move-in at the beginning of August, just 68 days after the purchase was confirmed.
“Since it was already an active hotel, all the rooms were in functioning condition, but we wanted to give a little love and a little King's touch to the building,” Jonathan Sheaffer, Assistant Director of Student Life, said. “We had all hands on deck helping out—from Rich Switzer and the Facilities department, to the Student Development team, to outside contractors, to the admissions team, to student workers, student leaders, and even the men's soccer team.”
Though the rooms were indeed functioning and acceptable for living, many of the girls had concerns up until move-in about the state of the rooms. The process of quick and serious transition from a hotel into a college dorm meant there was limited information. Many girls took frequently to the Riff website in the hopes they’d be able to figure out their room layout.
Others spent time searching for kitchen appliances to replace the mini-fridge they thought they’d be stuck with. But the “King’s touch” included a full-sized fridge in every room, relieving the fears of many.
“I walked in with my mom, we saw the fridge, and I remember she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you’ll be fine,” Deborah Goncalves, an SBA freshman, said.
More than just the replacement of fridges, the rooms were almost completely remodeled. Rooms were repainted, all the floors were sealed, and appliances were added—including a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, and four new washers and dryers in the basement. Finally, most of the furniture was replaced with newer, more stylish pieces.
While the physical changes are major, the different atmosphere of Greenwich will likely provide the most important change to students. Rather than four roommates, each room only holds two, and the entire building is filled with King’s girls.
“It’s definitely more of a traditional college experience,” Rachel Bass, a Barton sophomore, said. “And it’s nice because you only have to coordinate with one other person rather than three. For me, it was a breeze.”
The new Greenwich housing marks a step forward for many King’s students, faculty and staff, presenting new challenges and rewards as the college grows. And in the next year, the building itself will change as more renovations are completed.
“My greatest hopes for the next few years all come back to building a stronger community,” Sheaffer said. “There are other exciting projects and opportunities that we are looking into as well such as the community kitchen and a lounge. In particular, the community Kitchen, a space we are calling the Breezeway right now, will have a large refrigerator, a large sink, a couple ovens, and a large table for people to gather and eat together. It also gives access to the back courtyard--another really cool feature that will be unique to this building.”
Its residents are excited to adapt to the changes throughout the school year, and planning on taking advantage of the aesthetic in the meantime.
“It’s totally HGTV, Fixer Upper, Property Brothers dreams,” Goncalves said. “I mean, how many people don’t kill for exposed brick today?”