Next year, some 46 Silliman College students will temporarily trade their dining hall for wings, beer, and Monday Night Football.
Construction of a new annex space and restaurant in the Elm Street parking lot next to Davenport College began this summer. For the first time in University history, a Yale dorm building will share its space with a New Haven retailer when construction is completed next fall.
While the top three floors will serve as additional swing space during the Silliman renovation, the bottom floor will likely be occupied by a family friendly restaurant featuring a liquor license and plasma TVs, said University Properties director David Newton.
The Elm Street annex will be assigned by lottery to Silliman juniors and seniors, some of whom may be under 21. Silliman Master Judith Krauss said when she met with the building team, she expressed hope that something other than a restaurant would occupy the first floor space.
“I was concerned about noise, cooking odors, and alcohol,” Krauss said. “But despite my reservations … I imagine there would be some students who would love to have one so conveniently located right in their building.”
Although the specific first floor tenant is not yet definitive, University Properties has narrowed it down to a few strong interests, Newton said.
“It’s not going to be a sports bar,” Newton said. “It’s going to be a restaurant. The emphasis is on food, not alcohol, and there is considerable effort being made and cost incurred to create acoustic separation so we don’t have sound problems.”
All 3,500 square feet on the first floor will be devoted to the restaurant. The lot will also include a private courtyard that borders the current Davenport courtyard, project manager David Yager said. Upon Silliman’s completion, the top three floors will become extra Davenport annex space.
“This is not something we would typically do in a Yale building, but because it is part of University Properties, it is really a joint project with New Haven,” Yager said.
Silliman student Kyli Hanson ’09 said although she appreciates the University’s effort to integrate students into a lively environment, she would rather live in Swing Space on Tower Parkway away from any distractions.
“It would be great to live there for socializing, but as a student easily annoyed by noise, I would not want to have to avoid going back to my dorm if I need to study,” Hanson said.
Newton said he thinks that as Yale continues to build new spaces, especially in retail areas such as Broadway, it is appropriate to incorporate New Haven retail into these projects. The British Art Center on Chapel Street also shares its space with local retailers.
“It makes … sense to find ways to create space that satisfies the city and the University’s needs, all of which add vibrancy to the area,” Newton said. “I think it’s a preference for some students to live in that kind of lively atmosphere.”