At its February meeting, the Board of Managers approved the College's proposal to self-develop the Town Center West project, which includes an inn with 40-to-45 guest rooms, a restaurant, and the relocation of the College-run bookstore. The inn, the centerpiece of the project, is imagined as a hub of intellectual energy and a gathering place for faculty, students, and staff; for visiting scholars and speakers; for alumni, parents, prospective families, and friends of the College, and visiting friends and family members of local residents.
In a letter to the community, President Rebecca Chopp said:
"This is an exciting time for the College. Building upon an incredibly strong, long standing academic program and a robust and diverse community, we have a strategic planning process well underway with incredible energy and engagement from every stakeholder group in our community. Now we also have the opportunity to develop an inn, restaurant, and campus bookstore to reinvigorate the center of the Borough's commercial district; to create a conference and meeting space for all members of our community as well as for visiting scholars and current and prospective families; to engage in conversations that enrich our intellectual lives; and to help address the future of liberal arts."
A series of campus conversations about the project are planned. The first, on the hospitality industry across the country and region, will take place on Mon., Feb. 28, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Another conversation, focusing on labor issues, will be held Wed., Mar. 2, at 4:30 p.m. All sessions will take place in Science Center 101.
The Swarthmore Town Center West project has been under discussion since 1999, when a planning document, with recommendations for an inn, new south College entrance, and the relocation of the College Bookstore, was prepared for Swarthmore Borough. It will be located on a tract owned by the College near its athletics facilities and the SEPTA Swarthmore train station.