​New Bookstore Highlights

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the May 7 Sewanee Village update meeting Sarah Boykin presented an overview of the features of the new bookstore soon to be constructed on the lot between Tower Bank and the post office. As University Director of Planning, Design, and Construction, Boykin has shepherded the project from the beginning.
Discussion on design began over a year ago. The gable structure building has a spacious front porch with a wheelchair accessible ramp. Just inside the front door a transaction counter will offer light refreshments like coffee and pastry. The event area just beyond will accommodate book signings and comfortable lounging in a living room like space. Floor to ceiling bookshelves will line the wall on the Tower Bank side. The bookstore will also include a children’s area.
Although Barnes and Noble will operated the facility, Boykin stressed, “This will be a small town bookstore about books, a place for readers and writers.” While only two-thirds the size of the former bookstore, the 6,500 square foot facility will actually feature more shelving than the old bookstore where much of the space was underutilized.
The second floor will offer souvenir type items and textbook pickup for students, with only a small inventory of textbooks maintained onsite. Technology has streamlined the textbook ordering process, Boykin explained, with students books ordered automatically when they registered for a class.
Nine parking spaces on the post office side will serve the facility, as well a three spaces in front and bike racks.
Asked if the parking was adequate, Boykin said, “We can change the culture of driving and encourage and create a walkable community.” She pointed out the ample parking at the former bookstore was largely used for events, not by bookstore patrons.
Boykin said the trend on college campuses was to locate the bookstore in the downtown area. “It will be interesting to see how it engages the community.” Boykin predicted the bookstore would open by the end of the year.
Turning to other Sewanee Village news, Frank Gladu who oversees the project said the recent Tiger Tuesday fundraiser brought in $25,000. The resources are earmarked for the beautification of downtown, including amenities like chairs, landscaping, and lights. Commenting on the “cross-section of involvement” the fundraiser spurred, including quite a few student donors, Gladu said, “With the bookstore moving downtown, students have a more vested interest in the downtown area.” The Sewanee Village advisory group includes a student representative.
Offering updates on the priority projects, Gladu said construction on the mixed-use food market and apartment building would begin when the developer had leased 60 percent of the apartment space and 60 percent of the retail space. The largest component of lower level of the 7,000 square foot building will be a food market with 12 apartments planned for the second floor, six studio apartments and six one bedroom apartments. The design also calls for an elevator serving the second level.
Asked about possible relocation of the Hair Depot located on the lot proposed for the mixed-use structure, Gladu said, “The Hair Depot is a vital activity area for the village. We want to retain their business and are working with the owner to identify a space for them.”
In the arena of single-family housing, Gladu said Requests for Proposals for dwellings less than 2,000 square feet were under review. The Village Plan also calls for multi-family dwellings like duplexes and townhouses.
An ongoing concern regarding the Village Project has been how to deal with storm water. Providing an overview of the recently completed storm water study, Gladu said the recommendations for mediating storm water called for an “above ground approach where most of the features will be visible” rather than piping the water underground. The study can be viewed at the Sewanee Village website under the pull-down menu heading “Resources.”