Contrary to initial plans, the Swarthmore Campus and Community Store, part of the larger project of the construction of Town Center West, will not open in the coming weeks. Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration, stated in an interview that the college bookstore, which was slated to be moved to its new location at Town Center West during Spring Break, will likely remain in its current spot in Lower Tarble until the entire structure is opened for business.
“Because of on-going construction and a lack of parking on the site during the construction period, we decided that it would be best to open the store concurrent with the opening of the inn and the restaurant.”, Brown explained. The main parking site serving Town Center West, which will be built over the former softball field, is still yet to be completed.
While Brown did not offer a date for the opening of the new bookstore and inn, he maintained that the entire structure at Town Center West will be ready and open in time for Commencement Weekend in May. Taylor Morgan ‘19, a student employee of the campus bookstore, stressed that the timing of this relocation in time for commencement is important because of the volume of people expected to patronize the store. “Our little bookstore can not accommodate the number of people who will be coming in for Commencement Weekend”.
The opening of Town Center West by Commencement Weekend may also be advantageous for families who wish to stay overnight for the festivities. Previous to the construction of the inn, families and alumni seeking lodging for Commencement Weekend were were limited in their options. The college’s Lodging Guide recommended area hotels, which necessitate transportation to the college itself, limited space in Willets Residence Hall, or to two relatively small Bed & Breakfasts in the town of Swarthmore, which quickly become unavailable. The Inn at Swarthmore will provide a convenient addition to these options, and Brown himself suggested that the inn, which offers 40 guestrooms and suites, has already been taken advantage of in that capacity.
“As you can imagine, the number of requests that the inn has already received for Commencement Weekend far exceeds the number of rooms,” he explained.
He encourages those wishing to book rooms for other dates to visit the inn’s website.
Brown also expressed excitement at the benefits that the new facilities represent for relations between the college and the surrounding community, a sentiment echoed by other representatives of the college throughout the construction of the project.
The college’s website reads: “Inspired by Swarthmore Borough’s Revitalization Plan and consistent with the College’s mission, [Town Center West] will serve as a physical and social link between the Borough and the College, promoting collaboration, communication, and opportunities for intellectual engagement involving the entire community.” Brown and others hope that the movement of the campus bookstore to the Ville will foster further interaction between the student body and the broader Swarthmore Community.
Morgan, who was part of the student selection committee for the new director of the campus bookstore, echoes this sentiment, saying that the relocation of the campus store has been central to the discussions of the committee. While the committee expressed concern that students will not be inclined to walk the extra distance to the Ville for their books and daily amenities, Morgan also highlighted that the shift to the Ville will allow the store to benefit from having passer-by traffic and will give community-members easier access to the store through available parking. “Either people are touring the school or they are part of the school already. Having the bookstore at in the Ville will encourage people to feel like they can be part of the store. We will also be adding more products by local artisans and vendors to add an element of community to the store”, Morgan said. In addition to the new bookstore, the inn itself will house conference space that will allow the college to host larger-scale academic events that may have previously been unfeasible.
The college has not yet made the revised schedule for the development and opening of Town Center West available to the Swarthmore Community, but Brown anticipates that that will soon change: “[The community] can expect to see campus-wide communications about the opening of Town Center West during the month of April.”