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Suffolk dorm plan advances as neighbors drop opposition

Suffolk University officials are optimistic about their proposal to convert the building at 10 West St. in Downtown Crossing into a student residence hall, now that residents at the nearby Millennium Place condominiums have dropped their opposition to the project.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority held its second and final public meeting on the issue in late June and will be collecting public comments until tomorrow.

According to Jessica Shumaker of the BRA, when that period is over, the agency will review the comments and their internal analysis, then make a decision, probably at one of the next BRA board meetings, which take place every three weeks.

"Suffolk has done a good job of getting the community on board, and we feel we are ready to make a decision fairly soon," said Shumaker.

The BRA has been largely supportive of the proposal, saying it is a good alternative to Suffolk's 2006 plans to construct a dorm on Beacon Hill, which eventually lost support from city officials in light of neighborhood complaints.

For the current plan, Millennium Place residents dropped their opposition after reaching an agreement with Suffolk University last Monday.

The school agreed to limit its future expansion of student housing in the area.

The proposed 90,000-square-foot building on West Street would house from 260 to 280 students.

"The more people know about this project, the more they see the benefits it brings to the neighborhood," said John Nucci, Suffolk's vice president of government and community affairs.

The Suffolk Task Force Subcommittee on 10 West Street, a group of Boston residents appointed by the mayor that works with the BRA to evaluate the project, is also largely in favor of the plans, according to Margaret Carr, a downtown resident who heads the subcommittee. "The majority of the subcommittee thinks this proposal will be good for the neighborhood," said Carr.