November 16, 2009

AMHERST, Mass. – Amherst College trustees have authorized resumption of the Lord Jeffery Inn project that will involve renovation of the historic inn’s 49 rooms and add event space and an expanded restaurant. 

The project is reduced in scope from the one initially proposed last fall that would have added 20 rooms. But the revised plan provides the flexibility to add rooms at a later date if warranted by financial performance. College staff will continue planning and design for the construction phase of the project. Construction is slated to begin this spring, with the goal of reopening the Inn in spring 2011.

Although the option of developing the Lord Jeffery Inn with a private partner was explored, college officials determined that it was more financially advantageous for the college to undertake the project without a financial partner. The project is estimated to cost about $14 million, with financing likely to come from one or more loans repaid from Inn revenue. Viewed as an investment, the Inn expects to pay for itself through the profit generated through operations. The College will continue to consult with experts in inn and restaurant design and operation and will announce further details within the coming months.

In the meantime, the College looks forward to working with town officials to pick up where the project left off last fall. Over the winter, 50  geothermal wells, each 500 feet deep, were drilled at the project site. These wells, which will provide environmentally friendly heating and cooling, will figure prominently in any renovation plans.

“We’re very excited to be able to proceed with this project, which is so important to the health and vitality of downtown Amherst,” Amherst College President Anthony W. Marx said. “We consider this project to be an investment that will provide very significant benefits to the College and the Amherst community.”

The 46,000-square-foot Lord Jeffery Inn was built in 1926 and has been owned by Amherst Inn Company, an affiliate of AmherstCollege, since then. It was closed in November 2008 amid plans of a proposed renovation and expansion program. Because of the national financial crisis that began in the fall of 2008, trustees decided to put the renovation and expansion on hold and directed college staff and a Lord Jeffery Inn committee to identify a more economical alternative.