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Recycling campus housing


It’s the ultimate in cash and carry. University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee recently mused to a local newspaper about the possibility of putting four on-campus brick houses up for sale for a dollar apiece. The catch is that the purchasers would have to physically move the fixer-uppers elsewhere.

If the idea sounds familiar, it is. Queen’s University floated a similar scheme back in 2006, offering 24 red-brick homes from the Victorian era for a dollar each. The university-owned houses needed to be razed or moved to make way for a new student centre. Alas, the complexity and cost of moving the homes proved too much, and the homes were demolished that fall.

Another surplus campus home had a happier fate. Mount Allison University’s MacGregor House was sold in the summer of 2007 and the new owner successfully moved it about two city blocks down the street, says Michelle Strain, the university’s director of administrative services.

The total cost to the owner was about $100,000, and for that price “he got a beautiful house,” says Ms. Strain.

The university recently had two other houses for sale, Baxter and Sprague Houses, but their fate looks grim. “We just don’t have the money to keep them up to code,” says Ms. Strain.

She says there were at least two serious inquiries from potential buyers. However, professional movers deemed the homes too large to move down the narrow street. Plus, several mature trees would have needed to be cut down, which the university was reluctant to do.

Unfortunately, none of the Canadian universities have quite the same financial resources as North Carolina’s Duke University. The university has five houses it wants removed and is offering to pay $10,000 to anyone willing to take one of them.

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