After more than a year of planning and renovation, Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) moved Sunday from 53A Church St. to their new home at 67 Mt. Auburn St.
The four-story Burke McCoy Hall now houses both HSA and Let's Go Travel. The building offers increased square footage for the rapidly growing agency and a custom-designed floor plan.
Most of the inner walls of the building, built in the 1920s, were torn down and more handicapped access, including ramps and an elevator, was added. The building now boasts three ground- level handicapped entrances.
This is the third move for Let's Go, Inc., which was located in Thayer Hall before moving to Story Street. The other HSA agencies have resided on Church Street.
As leases became due and the agencies grew in size, a new building had to be found, said HSA General Manager Richard M. Olken '67.
"It's tough moving every three to five years," said Olken. "We have a reputation for being in every basement in Harvard Square."
The first floor of the HSA building will be leased to tenants. The current Tennis and Squash shop will be joined by a small BankBoston ATM room and "Wrap Culture," a restaurant specializing in burrito-like wrap sandwiches.
However, the construction of the new building was besieged by many setbacks. "If it could happen, it happened," said Olken. "We were only five weeks off our scheduled completion date, but it was a traumatic five weeks."
Since the start of renovation in early June, HSA dealt with an oil spill under the building and had to remove lead paint and asbestos from the original structure. Explosive chemicals were also found in the basement, remnants from an old chemistry lab which was part of the high school that used to be located in the building.
HSA President Matt J. Heid '97 said he was impressed with the HSA's success in finishing the project.
"The building was very poorly maintained," said Heid. "No one realized how extensive renovations were going to be. I'm so proud that we're here."
Both he and HSA Vice-President Adam J. Rymer '97 said they believed having both businesses in the same building will increase work efficiency and communication between departments.
"I was really emotional walking around the new building. The work atmosphere is going to be so great here; I'm sad that I won't experience very much of it," said Rymer, whose term ends in February.
HSA will also open its first retail store-front in Holyoke Center on Jan. 2. The store will contain the Let's Go Travel Agency, the linen agency and the Campus Store
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