The University, winning a race against wine, will open the old. Hotel Continental to student occupancy today, despite delays in the renovation of the building's interior.
Stephen S.J. Hall, vice-president for Administration, said last week that a major obstacle involved getting approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which is contributing interest subsidy to the $1 million reconstruction. Hall, former director of operations for ITT. Sheraton Corporation, said the renovation was "my toughest problem in 13 years of dealing with construction projects" because of the pressing time schedule.
Genevieve Austin, assistant dean of students, said last week that the 41-year-old structure on Garden Street would help relieve a normally tight housing situation complicated by this year's large freshman class. An increase in the number of women admitted to improve the sex ratio has raised the number of freshmen by about 100 this year.
Lack of time and as inexperienced contractor made the remodeling job difficult to complete on schedule. Robert Thomas, construction manager with Buildings and Grounds, said last week. Harvard hired the Vinnie Construction Company, a minority contractor, to work on the Continental.
"Although the minority contractor was the low bidder, he doesn't have all the connections in the Boston area that larger firms have and he hasn't handled many jobs this site." Thomas said. "But with this experience he should be able to tackle larger jobs and in the end analysis it should turn out nicely for all parties."
He added that Harvard Buildings and Grounds was giving special assistance to the contractor to finish the job on time.
Austin said her office has made no provisions for students assigned to the Continental if the building is not ready by the end of the week. "We're proceeding along optimistically." she said.
The Continental--which will house 176 students--was purchased by Harvard in March for $1,190,000. The top two floors of the five-story structure will be rented to married graduate students. The second and third floors will handle the overrun from the three Radcliffe Houses in the same manner that Claverly Hall serves the Harvard Houses.
A tutor from each of the Radcliffe houses will reside at the Continental and students will retails their House affiliations. No freshmen will have in the hotel.
The original hotel layout consisted of single rooms with bathrooms and vestibules and three-room apartments with small kitchens. Partitioning work converted most of the units into two or three-room suites. There are also some scattered singles on the undergraduate floors.
Renovations include a new boiler plant, new windows throughout the building, new carpeting in the rooms and hallways, and the replacement of most of the old kitchens. Hall said that the contractor also rewired the building, replaced some plumbing and bathroom fixtures, and installed a buzzer and sprinkler systems. The building is air-conditioned.
Although each apartment contains a kitchen, undergraduates will be required to have a board contract with their Houses Austin said she had lobbied for a ten meal per week plan, but that the three Radcliffe House Masters overruled her.
The House Masters felt that if the students are their meals at the Houses, they would feel more a part of the House system" Austin said.
Harvard removed the hotel's man kitchen and there is no during facility in the building.
Henry H. Cutler real estate manager for the University said there were no define plans for the ground floor of the Continental. "There is an idea to place some kind of day care center in there," he said.