Suffolk buys Ames Hotel for new residence hall, 1047 Commonwealth to close

The building will house less students than 1047 Commonwealth currently does.

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Suffolk University officially purchased the Ames Hotel building on Tuesday with plans to open the building as a residence hall by next fall. 

The building on 1 Court Street was bought for $63.5 million and will replace the university’s newest residence hall at 1047 Commonwealth Ave, according to Suffolk University spokesman Greg Gatlin.

“The [Ames] building is situated in the heart of downtown Boston, and is within a five-minute walk from all of our academic buildings,” Gatlin said in an email to The Suffolk Journal. “It will become a part of our core downtown campus and will offer our students exceptional access to opportunities in the city.”

While 1047 has a longer commute to campus and had a number of maintenance issues last year, the building’s 180 micro-apartments can house up to 380 students. 

The Ames building will house nearly 30% less students than 1047 currently does. 

Gatlin said the new residence hall will contain 114 rooms, with a combination of singles, doubles and triples, and will house 266 students. He said a cafe may be added to the building during its renovation, but there will not be a full-service dining hall. 

Renovations are expected to be minimal, according to Gatlin, as the building was fully renovated in 2017. He did not give an estimate of how much Suffolk’s renovations will cost.  

Suffolk President Marisa Kelly announced the purchase in a blog post sent to students’ emails Tuesday afternoon. 

“This is a great opportunity for Suffolk and an important investment in our future,” Kelly wrote in the post. “As you know, expanding our permanent residence hall capacity is a major physical campus initiative called for in the Suffolk 2025 strategic plan.”

Gatlin said more students are requesting two-years of on-campus housing and that occupancy rates in the resident halls have increased. 

“We have seen growth in overall demand for student housing over time…” said Gatlin. “We have viewed 1047 as a good stopgap measure until we could find a permanent answer to housing more students within the proximity of our downtown campus.”

Suffolk currently leases 1047 from The Michaels Companies and acquired the building from Boston University two years ago. This is the second year of the university’s two-year lease of the building, which it had the opportunity to renew. 

Abhy Patel, chairperson of the Student Government Association’s housing committee, said he doesn’t mind that Suffolk is moving out of 1047 because of its distance from campus among other issues. 

“The building had a lot of issues with malfunctioning equipment and forced triples,” said Patel. “To foster community between students, I really think they should all be in close vicinity [to each other].”

The university still has to undergo a permitting and community engagement process for the Ames building, as required by the City of Boston. The process typically takes a minimum of eight to nine months to complete and must include periods for public comment and public hearings.

John Nucci, senior vice president for External Affairs at Suffolk, will lead this process for the university.  

Student Affairs and the University Space Committee will help determine if the building will house primarily first or second year students. A group led by Ashley Lindsey, Director of Facilities at Suffolk, will handle logistical concerns in the project. 

“One clear advantage of moving ahead with this project is that it furthers the initiative of the mayor and city council to free up existing private housing units by providing students the option to live in on-campus residence halls,” said Nucci. 

The Ames building was built in 1893 and was the first skyscraper in Boston. Suffolk bought the building from the Texas investment firm Invesco.

The Ames Hotel, which operated in the building for the last nine years, closed its doors earlier this week.

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