Revolution Hotel, New England Conservatory Look to Partner for Residence Hall

With the hotel industry hurting tremendously – and few tourists expected here this summer and fall – and colleges trying to figure out how to welcome students back to Boston in the fall, the Revolution Hotel and New England Conservatory (NEC) are looking to forge a partnership they believe will help one another.

The two organizations announced a potential partnership whereby the Revolution Hotel would be used as dormitory space for NEC students in the 2020-2021 school year as the hotel doesn’t anticipate seeing many guests in the coming year.

For NEC, they have decided to open up in the fall as usual, but they cannot use their existing residence hall space in the same fashion, and need more space. They anticipate needing 65-98 rooms at the Revolution.

This appears to be a good fit for them and for Revolution.

“Based upon our current understanding of public health guidance, NEC plans to open its residential hall in the fall at reduced capacity,” read a proposal from NEC. “As a result, we are seeking an alternative housing arrangement in a single location for students who can no longer be housed at our residential hall. NEC would like to enter into an agreement to lease space at The Revolution Hotel for the 2020-2021 academic year. This arrangement is very desirable to NEC due to its favorable location in the South End, as well as its proximity to campus. NEC believes it is safer for these students to be in a

single location, and that it also limits disruption and pressure on students to identify alternative arrangements on their own…This arrangement is very desirable to the Revolution because it provides stable occupancy with an

academic population that is professionally focused and intensely dedicated to their craft.”

The proposal is on the fast track, and NEC wants to notify students some time this week of the proposal. Some of the stipulation of the plan include:

•No first-year undergraduate students will be housed at the Revolution. Students will be sophomores, junior, seniors, or graduate students desiring NEC housing.

•NEC will appoint a Neighborhood Association liaison who will be the point person to receive and respond to any neighborhood concerns while NEC students are in residence at The Revolution Hotel.

•Students will travel between the locations via public transportation (likely the T) or by walking. Students living at the Revolution will not be eligible for resident parking in the South End, and any students with cars must separately procure parking in commercially available garages.

•All rooms at the hotel will be single occupancy. As a result of the current health crisis, NEC currently has a policy of no external guests. Key card access will limit access to floors housing NEC students.

•NEC maintains a number practice rooms on its campus, which are equipped with pianos and related equipment that make them preferable practice spaces for our students. This activity is essential to the students’ artistic development, and the conservatory environment is conducive to effective practicing. Students may also want to play in their rooms in order to achieve their goals; however, in order to limit any potential noise concerns for students who practice at the Revolution, there will be specific practice hours available to them, which will be strictly enforced. Students will be prohibited from practicing before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m. and also will only be able to practice individually in their rooms with windows closed. NEC and the Revolution are committed to working together to proactively manage noise considerations.

The Ellis South End Neighborhood Association met with the City, Revolution and NEC on a Zoom meeting last week to discuss the partnership. Many things were discussed, including the safety and health protocols – things such as testing and monitoring. In addition, the noise concerns from practicing students was also addressed. On Monday night, a noise test performance took place where students played in the proposed rooms on the sixth floor to see whether or not the music was a disruption.

The Ellis solicited feedback on that test, but it didn’t appear to be a major disruption.

The partnership is but one of many between hotel operators in Boston and universities that need to space out residence halls. For many hotel operators, it could be a life-line unique to Boston if there are no conflicts with neighbors.

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