WILLIAMSTOWN — Though it bears the college's name, The Williams Bookstore is intended to feel like a community bookstore.
The first floor of the store, which opened last week, is filled not with textbooks, but general fiction and nonfiction titles.
"It was a very conscious decision by the committee that was formed to help design this store that the first floor be a welcoming floor for the whole community, not just the students," said Mary Dettloff, a college spokesperson.
The $10.5 million store at the corner of Spring and Walden streets opened its doors last Friday, with plans for a grand opening on Labor Day weekend as students return.
"They wanted to use the time between now and when students are back to do a soft open phase to work out any bugs," Dettloff said.
The store is just part of the college's ongoing effort to keep Spring Street vibrant, including the renovation of The Log restaurant in 2015 and proposed construction of a new Williams Inn, all of which school officials say will benefit both the college and town.
"These are three projects that we purposely have targeted for Spring Street to help revitalize it," said Fred Puddester, treasurer and vice president for finance and administration at Williams College.
The 14,257-square-foot newly constructed building features a first floor with retail books and a cafe operated by Tunnel City Coffee with indoor and outdoor seating.
On the second floor, students will find textbooks and school merchandise. The building's third floor is devoted to private office space.
Follett Corp., which operated and supplied the college's textbooks through nearby Water Street Books, will continue to do so at the new location. The Water Street storefront has been closed.
The Williams Shop, which is privately owned, also sells Williams-branded merchandise from its location on the northern end of Spring Street.
Detloff said the Williams Bookstore will have a smaller selection of school merchandise than the Williams Shop, with less than half of its second floor being dedicated to such items. She noted that the college works with the Williams Shop in licensing and does not "in any way, shape, or form" want to see it go out of business.
The college will submit the new Spring Street store, which includes a number of environmentally-friendly features, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.
There are energy-efficient windows and LED lighting throughout the building. The glass used for windows on the south and east-facing windows is specially designed to allow sunlight and heat during the winter and provide shade and keep the building cool during the summer.
The bookstore is just one of several major investments the college is making on Spring Street.
In 2015, the college renovated The Log and opened it to the public.
The college also plans to open a new Williams Inn on the southern end of Spring Street in the late Spring of 2019. The proposal for a 64-room hotel won Planning Board approval and will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals later this month, according to Puddester. Should the college get the green light from the Zoning Board of appeals, it will begin construction this fall.
The proposed Williams Inn would replace the current facility, which has roughly twice the number of rooms, on Main Street.
Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter