Brian Decker

Executive Editor

The Phoenix at McMaster/Facebook

Patrons looking to enjoy a pint at McMaster’s newest watering hole will have to wait a little while longer.

The Phoenix Bar & Grill, originally set to move from Wentworth House to the Refectory in January, will not be moving until at least mid-February due to unforeseen construction issues.

Contractors working on the move last month discovered some previously unknown piping and a large cement block, delaying the move of the campus bar for anywhere from a few weeks to over a month.

“Our intention was try and move some time in January. We are going to miss that deadline,” said Graduate Students Association (GSA) president Jessica Merolli.

The Phoenix will remain open in Wentworth House through the end of January.

The initial plan included much of the project’s heavy construction to be completed during the exam and holiday break, while Bridges, the Refectory’s other tenant, was closed.

The discovery of pipes between two walls being knocked down – likely part of the original Refectory kitchen – and a thick cement block in the centre of the building have pushed the operations back, however.

“Because it’s an old building and it’s been used for a lot of different things, sometimes you take down a wall and there’s something there you didn’t expect,” said Merolli. “There are things that don’t necessarily show in the most current version of the drawings because the building is so old.”

The Refectory is a heritage building and one of the original six buildings from when McMaster moved to Hamilton in 1930.

“There’s no feeling that if we had access to better drawings that we’d be better off,” said Merolli, refusing to place blame on the GSA, the university or the contractors working on the project. “These are the kinds of things you would expect to encounter in a heritage building.”

While the project was considered to be on time as recently as mid-November, with a plan to have the new location operational by January, Merolli says the previous deadlines were a part of a plan to move construction along efficiently.

“It was probably expected that we weren’t going to make our deadline for the end of January, but it’s also important to put those in because you want to keep pressure on your contractors,” said Merolli. “We wanted to keep them moving along as fast as possible while knowing they were going to run into things they don’t expect.

“This wasn’t anything unexpected for us. You go into a project hoping for the best, but we know that [something unexpected] was likely going to happen.”

A status meeting is set for Monday, Jan. 9 to determine how much work was completed during the break and how long the delay will be, with current estimates for completion ranging from Feb. 10 to later in the month or possibly early March.

“Right now we’re looking at a completion date in mid February. That date might move depending on how much work they were able to complete during the break,” said Merolli. “I will guarantee that unless something really crazy happens, we’ll definitely be open for St. Patrick’s Day.”


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