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Three St. John's schools for sale

The closed Bishops College will be sold by tender by the English School District.
The closed Bishops College will be sold by tender by the English School District. - Barb Sweet

Tenders to be issued on vacant buildings

The English School District is selling three landmark St. John’s schools that were shuttered in recent years.

Bishops College and Booth Memorial — two former high schools in the city — and the former Macpherson Elementary on Newtown Road will be offered for sale in tenders expected to be issued Friday, The Telegram was told in an interview Wednesday with the English School District.

The tenders will close March 28, with the properties being sold as is.

Any known environmental remediation issues will be disclosed in the tender packages and will be up to the buyer to deal with.

Terry Hall, assistant director of education for the English School Board, said that given the age of the buildings — they are at least 40 or 50 years old — there is going to be material in them that may need to be dealt with by buyers.

Before they could go to tender, Hall said, the board had to reach agreements with third parties — the various churches that owned them under the former denominational school system that was folded in the 1990s.

Any profit after expenses would also mean those churches get a cut based on a financial agreement, Hall said.

Given a potential tough real estate market, Hall said, the board will try to generate as much interest as it can, because having vacant buildings on the books isn’t good because of such risks as fire and the ongoing expenses associated with monitoring them.

“The district is always in the process of preparing our vacant schools to get them on the market,” Hall said.

The schools have already been the target of graffiti artists and vandals who have broken windows.

As for community groups taking them on, Hall said that might be hard for them, given the buildings’ massive size and overall deteriorated condition.

“We obviously closed them for a reason,” he said.

Ward 2 was hard hit with school closures in recent years. Besides those three, one closed centre city school is being used by the French school board in a multi-year-agreement and another is being retained as a district school, which offers alternative education for certain students.

High school closures were prompted by a new school opening in the west end — Waterford Valley High on Topsail Road.

But Hall said there are other properties across the island that will be moved off the board’s books in the near future. A few will be put up for tender, while the board is in discussions to dispose of a couple of others.

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