Accommodation facility on the market

The Cromwell College Apartments are up for sale. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
The Cromwell College Apartments are up for sale. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON
After Covid-19 uncertainty and constraints closed the doors on the Cromwell College Apartments Hostel programme, the accommodation facility is now for sale.

Last year Cromwell College principal Mason Stretch said the decision to close the apartments was due to concerns about managing staff and pupil health and wellbeing as a result of having to manage close contacts or those who were unwell with Covid.

The college has been running an accommodation programme since 1995, renting the buildings until 1998 when the Cromwell College Charitable Trust — set up independently of the school — was formed to buy the former Ministry of Works administration centre.

The purchase cost $485,000, and was assisted by a 25-year loan from the Cromwell Community Board, which has almost been fully repaid.

The purchase consolidated a semi-independent boarding programme and an Outdoor Pursuits Academy at the McNulty Rd site.

In summer, the site is used as accommodation for recognised seasonal employment (RSE) scheme and seasonal workers.

In the face of a declining school roll, the apartments programme successfully helped to secure pupils within the senior school and bolster numbers, trust chairman Robin Pimm said.

"The programme was successful, enabling the college to keep staff and continue to offer senior curriculum programmes. The programme was highly regarded and popular, with many younger siblings of past students also enrolling," Mr Pimm said.

In 2002-03, the facility underwent a $700,000 upgrade, adding bunk-room accommodation and a new manager’s residence.

Since Covid-19 use of the apartments had changed and with strong growth in Cromwell was not needed to attract pupils any longer, Mr Pimm said.

After considering a report by APL "at length", the trustees recently informed the Cromwell College board of trustees of the intention to sell the 1.554ha site.

"There’s no direct benefit to the school [to keep the apartments] ... The building is now 30-40 years old ... and it will need some serious maintenance to go forward," Mr Pimm said.

"Although the full apartments complex is now let to RSE workers the costs are increasing and major repairs to the facility are needed in order to meet the new Healthy Homes Standards. This will require significant expense to improve heating and install double glazing, on top of high diesel costs. A major fire upgrade will also be required."

He was excited for the next chapter ahead for the charitable trust and the impact it would have on the educational opportunities and outcomes for Cromwell College pupils.