Complexity of Metropolitan facility revamp slows opening as dorms, shifts MIT focus
Work has slowed on converting the massive, 121-year-old Metropolitan Moving & Storage warehouse into student residences and other Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses.
An August announcement that the institute, Metropolitan’s longtime landlord, was calling for the business to close and make way for reuse was greeted with some outcry. The City Council, led by E. Denise Simmons – now mayor – passed a policy order resolution in September calling for a delay based on what she felt was short notice to its customers.
The 221,194-square-foot facility ultimately closed Jan. 30, with the institute looking at a September 2018 reopening, the structure’s 1,400 brick and concrete units converted to student uses, including maker space, and ground-floor retail.
In an MIT News Office release Thursday, institute officials said the timeline was “unlikely” and would be pushed back.
“The building’s age and style makes this a vexing undertaking for a September 2018 opening, even for our solutions-oriented community,” said Associate Provost Karen Gleason, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Warehouse Advisory Group, in the release.
The focus for new student housing “will now shift to exploring alternative sites,” likely in the West Campus area, where studies are underway, the release said.
Gleason’s comments suggested the facility at 134 Massachusetts Ave. and Vassar Street would still be turned into “fun and functional student housing” – but the building’s “beautiful and complex” structure and historic aspects presented not just opportunities for repurposing but architectural and design challenges.
“The Met Warehouse looms large at MIT,” Gleason said in the release. “But as a storage facility, it has not been integral to the life and work of our community. As we proceed with our plans for the creative reuse of the Met Warehouse, we are as confident as ever that our work will make this building far more of a distinctive asset to our community than it has ever been.”