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Suffolk U. to build classroom in $62-million project

Suffolk University laid out plans to construct a 112,000-square-foot classroom complex on Somerset Street, a project slated to cost $62 million that officials said would benefit the community.

“Through institutional planning, the city encourages colleges and universities to look at their assets strategically,” said Melina Schuler, the assistant director of media and public relations at Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Schuler said the project is an important additional to the Beacon Hill area.

“The project at 20 Somerset St., which will consolidate Suffolk’s Beacon Hill campus, is a benefit to both the university and its educational facilities and the surrounding neighborhood,” she said.

The building will be eight stories tall and is slated to cost $62 million, according to a Suffolk press release from 2009. The complex will also include faculty offices, an art gallery and art studios, according to the press release.

The BRA board unanimously approved the Somerset Street project in July of 2009.

“This building will be a shining example of the community process at its best,” said John Nucci, Suffolk’s vice president for external affairs in a statement after the project was approved. “It has been designed in close collaboration with task force members and neighbors who have shared the goal of creating a building that will benefit Suffolk students and the City of Boston for generations.”

Suffolk student Tianna Duany, 21, from Jamaica, said the new building will not have much effect on the university’s campus, but could make it easier for students to get to class.

“It [the campus] is already close enough and centralized,” she said. “Adding a new building right across the street [from other classroom buildings] won’t affect much.”

Some residents of the Beacon Hill area were unaware of the changes Suffolk is planning.

“I didn’t know about the plan to build a new building,” said Beacon Hill resident Margaret MacDougall, 38.

Rachel Pope, 25, a Beacon Hill resident originally from Connecticut said the Suffolk presence in her neighborhood will yield to an increase in the student population for the Beacon Hill area.

“You definitely find a lot of college students in the area. Sometimes you wake up to kids running through the street naked at 3 a.m.,” Pope said. “I feel like it’s still close enough that kids will still be living here. I don’t know if we will feel the impacts.”

“The students tend to party on the weekend. It can be very loud,” MacDougall said. “In all honesty, it can be scary on the street.”

But longtime Beacon Hill resident Tom Gately, 71, said he has not had issues with the college residents in the area, even those living in his building.

“I have been here for a long time and there have been no real problems,” Gately said. “It [the move] will probably make the area quieter though.”

Still, Gately said the presence of Suffolk Police were nice to have around.

With Boston known as such a young town, some residents said they realized the college vibe was inevitable.

“It’s already such a college town,” Pope said. “I’m used to the atmosphere.”

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