Main Street building poses possibilites and problems
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 21:11
When the College purchased a building at 1716 Main St. last semester, it had the campus’ music and arts programs in mind.
The 14,000 square foot building, which cost for $575,000, was purchased at a time that coincided with faculty learning that they would be paying more for their health insurance. Despite the bad timing of the paperwork going through, Canisius President John Hurley believes the building has enormous potential for the College.
“Once people start going down there and they see how nice it is, the demand is going to soar for it,” Hurley said. “One of the potential uses was for the music program … I think the place is going to work very well as an art gallery [as well].”
The building, which Hurley said is not big enough to accommodate the entire chorale group, still holds use for other music ensembles like jazz band. However, concerns about the building being located off campus could pose a hassle and inconvenience for students.
“I feel that a move far off campus would only further decrease student interest and participation in our ensembles,” Jazz Ensemble president Michael Heilemann said, “especially since many groups already struggle to have full instrumentation with an on campus practice facility.”
Not only is the off-campus location posing problems, but work still needs to be done to make the building fully functional. Despite being refurbished recently, the College still needs to remove one major wall as well as some make acoustical adjustments to accommodate the music ensembles. However, Hurley stressed that the music program would not be the only group on campus to benefit from the Main Street building.
The building could be a home for the studio arts as well. Hurley stressed that the atmosphere of the building would be perfect for small readings that are often hosted by the English and Creative Writing departments. He even went further to suggest that the building would be a great place for certain clubs, particularly the Dance Griffs, to practice.
Despite Hurley’s hopes for the building’s multi-functional purpose, there are concerns that communication has dissipated between administration and faculty and students.
“[Assistant Director of Facilities] Jon Lyons had mentioned this building at the beginning of last semester, as somewhere we could use for practice, but that's about it,” Dance Griffs president Lindsay Carroll said. “I appreciate him keeping us in mind, but we haven't seen any progress with getting us in there.” Carroll was not even aware the building was located further down on Main Street until The Griffin had reached out to her for a comment.
The present concerns match faculty concerns about the building at the time it was purchased. Around that time, faculty learned they would have to pay more for their health insurance. Hurley said despite the hard economic times he is trying to balance short-term needs with long-term needs, with the Main Street building being a long-term benefit for the College.
Hurley also said he felt the building was a great purchase, despite the bad timing. He said the money that was put toward the building did not come from the operating budget, which often affects tuition and faculty salaries, but rather an endowment fund.
While the space would mainly serve music ensembles and some clubs, Hurley sees the space as having the further benefit of reception space. The building, which has convenient parking, could take current receptions from spaces like Grupp and Regis, as well as the Montante Cultural Center and move them further down Main Street. This would give the current on-campus spaces more availability for students.
Hurley noted that the Main Street building is not the biggest priority for the College and said that there have not been the available resources – mainly time and money – to quickly wrap up the project. There are many long-term goals for the building as well, which include adding an elevator to make the two-floor building more accessible.
Hurley hoped the building would be fully functional by this spring, but a realistic timeline puts the finished project still a few semesters down the line. However, some groups will be able to use the facility starting as early as next semester.
“It’s going to be a good building for Canisius, ultimately,” Hurley still assures. “We are going to be happy we bought that building.”