The site of a proposed UMW Jewish student center at 1500 College Ave.

City Council Approves UMW Jewish Student Center

by | Mar 15, 2017 | Government

By Susan Larson. File photo copyright Fredericksburg.Today.

Fredericksburg City Council approved the building of a Hillel Jewish student center at 1500 College Ave., across from the University of Mary Washington.

Councilor Kerry Devine was the only council member who voted against the plan, citing concerns for the College Heights neighborhood. “I think it is an encroachment into that neighborhood,” she said.

Residents who oppose the plan cited parking, traffic, university encroachment into the neighborhood, and construction noise. The College Heights Civic Association said it supports a Jewish student center for UMW, but not at this location.

Larry Silver of Silver Companies, who is building the center for UMW, said the facility would serve as “a religious institution focusing on the educational, spiritual and related needs primarily of Jewish students at the university.” Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. The facility will be called The Maxine and Carl Silver Hillel Center, in honor of Larry’s parents.

In response to concerns, the original plan was revised, said architect Jill Nolt of Glavé & Holmes Architecture. The overall square footage was reduced by about 1,800 square feet to 7,937 square feet, and the structure from two stories to one story.

In addition, the center will be for use by students only, will add six on-site parking spaces, and will require all events end by 11 p.m. The college will build a parking lot across from the Hillel center, which will have about 40 spaces. Construction of the lot is planned to begin summer 2017.

The first floor of the center will include a worship room, a student meeting room, a small conference room with quiet study space, and a Kosher kitchen. There is currently no Kosher facility on UMW’s campus.

The lower level of the Hillel center will be a one-bedroom apartment for faculty or rabbi in-residence.

“This is one of those occasions that could be a game changer for UMW, in terms of recruiting students and creating a diverse student body,” UMW President Dr. Troy Paino told City Council.

“Now more than ever it’s important to have interfaith dialogue,” he said. “From my perspective, this center is critically important to enrich the lives of the students.”

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