MUN beginning exterior renovations on former Battery Hotel

A St. John's landmark that soon become a Memorial University residence and public engagement centre will receive an exterior overhaul in the coming months.

University official says student residence will be ready by September

The former Battery Hotel on Signal Hill in St. John's is expected to open as a Memorial University student residence in September. Exterior renovations are scheduled to begin this week. (CBC)

Memorial University will begin renovation on the exterior of the former Battery Hotel this week.

The siding and roofing on the main tower and the harbour-facing wing will be replaced and the building's red stripes will be changed to a more neutral colour.

The external renovations are scheduled to run through the summer and end in August.

MUN purchased the St. John's landmark on Signal Hill for roughly $9 million in 2013, and has allocated $16.2 million for renovations.

The former hotel rooms will be converted into 80-plus graduate student residence rooms, many of which should be ready for September.

The former Battery Hotel will be spruced up in the coming months, with new roofing and siding. (CBC)

MUN has over 3,500 graduate students.

  A spokesperson for MUN says that although there will be heavy machinery and workers in the area during the day, the construction should not cause much disruption to the neighbourhood.

"We don't expect that there will be work in the evenings or a lot of noise outside of regular hours," said Rebecca Cohoe, communications co-ordinator at MUN's Office of Public Engagement.

Building will be cost-neutral

The rest of the facility will be used as a public engagement space, with room for workshops and conferences. It will also house several offices, including the Office of Public Engagement, the Harris Centre, the Gardiner Centre, and the Genesis Centre.

MUN says the entire facility will be completed in late 2016, or early 2017.

The university has yet to announce what other public engagement services will be offered at the site, but is in the process of accepting proposals. A series of public consultations on the space were held in 2014.

"We want it to be a place that is usable for many people," said Cohoe. "We're still figuring out what makes sense and what we can say yes to."

Residence rooms in the harbour-facing wing will cost $650 to $675 per month, but will be $550 to $575 while the building is under renovation.

More information will be available for prospective residents in mid-June.

MUN officials say the university expects the building to be "cost-neutral," with ongoing operating expenses offset by residence room fees, revenue generated at the facility, donations, and savings resulting from reduced leasing costs at other buildings.