May 21, 2010

AMHERST, Mass. – The Trustees of Amherst College today announced that Standard Builders, a construction company based in Newington, Conn., has been awarded the contract for the renovation of the Lord Jeffery Inn. The $14 million project will be the most extensive rehab of the Lord Jeff since its opening more than 80 years ago and includes an upgrade of the building’s internal systems, improvement of its 49 rooms and public areas, the addition of 20 parking spaces and the creation of a new restaurant and ballroom, while maintaining the charm of a New England inn. Construction is expected to begin May 24; the goal is to open the Lord Jeff for business in the summer of 2011. The Lord Jeff is owned by the Amherst Inn Company, an affiliate of AmherstCollege.

“We are very happy to get these renovations underway, since it is is so important to the health and vitality of downtown Amherst,” said Anthony W. Marx, president of the college, adding that while Standard Builders will serve as the general contractor on the project, they plan to employ local subcontractors and union tradespeople for work on it when possible. “This investment in the inn is really an investment in the town, downtown business community and the college’s need for a readily accessible inn for its visitors.” An operator to manage the inn and run the restaurant is currently being sought, and will be named in the coming months, he said.

The project will mostly involve enhancements to the interior of the building, such as bringing the rooms up to modern hotel standards. The outside of the inn will be restored and will remain largely unchanged, with one visible exception: the removal of the existing ramp that led to the previous restaurant, the Boltwood Tavern. Its disappearance, however, will actually make the façade of the Lord Jeff more historically accurate. (The new building will, of course, be handicapped-accessible.)

Reflecting the college’s commitment to sustainable design, the project will also seek LEED certification and, as such, will incorporate many sustainable features. Prime examples of this are the 50 geothermal wells, each 500 feet deep, that were drilled at the project site this past winter. The wells will provide environmentally friendly heating and cooling to the facility.

The current Lord Jeff project is reduced in scope from the one initially proposed in 2008. This revised plan provides the flexibility to add rooms at a later date if warranted by financial performance. The entire project is estimated to cost about $14 million, with financing likely to come from one or more loans repaid from inn revenue.

The 46,000-square-foot Lord Jeffery Amherst Inn was built in 1926. It is owned by the Amherst Inn Company, an affiliated corporation of AmherstCollege. 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 of the college 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.

Founded in 1949, Standard Builders uses traditional construction expertise to provide its clients in the institutional, healthcare and commercial market segments throughout Connecticut and Western Massachusetts with value-added services. Recent projects completed by the company include renovations to YaleUniversity’s Bienecke Library and Sage Hall, the addition of CooleyDickinsonHospital’s linear accelerator and renovations to Baystate Health’s BoschBuilding and FranklinMedicalCenter.

As construction progresses, details regarding the inn’s opening date, the restaurant and procedures for making reservations will be posted at the Lord Jeffery Inn website: