Olds College Centennial Village, which should be ready to house students by the fall of 2015, is being developed with an eye to the conference industry.
The 450-unit residence will give groups and organizations another reason to hold their events in Olds, said Kerry Moynihan, the college’s director of guest experience.
“We’re going to be really aggressive on that event-services, conference-services business,” said Moynihan, pointing to the Pomeroy Inn & Suites, which opened at Olds College a year ago; the 160 student townhouse units on campus; and renovated dining facilities, which are expected to be ready by this fall, as other amenities that should appeal to conference organizers.
“We have a very attractive, cost-effective event services concept right here in Central Alberta. We hope to attract a lot of business in that April-to-August period.”
The rest of the year, Centennial Village will serve the needs of students living on campus. With features like private rooms, individual washrooms and showers, an exercise room, Wi-Fi, fibre Internet connections, a coffee shop, conference rooms and card-access security, it will be a significant upgrade from 46-year-old Frank Grisdale Hall, which currently serves as Olds Collage’s student residence, said Moynihan.
“We want to be up to date with the needs of students.”
Building Centennial Village is Shunda Consulting & Construction Management Ltd. The Red Deer company also designed and financed the residence, and will operate it as College Housing (Olds) Co. (CHOC).
This private sector involvement allowed the project to proceed in a “cost-effective way” without having to wait for provincial funding that might never come, said Moynihan.
“It’s a model that’s used right across Canada and the United States,” he said. “I think it’s the only one in Alberta right now.”
Shunda also bought the Olds College townhouses and will operate these as well.
“We can spend more money on students and the academic program,” said Moynihan of the benefits of having CHOC carry the capital costs of student housing.
He said the college will work closely with CHOC and receive revenue opportunities from its operations.
“It’s a good business relationship,” said Moynihan. “We’ve had a good relationship with the Pomeroys and we hope to extend that relationship now with Shunda and CHOC.”
Although an official ground-breaking ceremony for Centennial Village was held July 3, work actually began in December. More than 300 pilings were drilled, with the four-storey building now going up in sections.
“The goal is to get everything up and closed in by November, when it gets cold,” said Moynihan. “And then they’ll complete the rest of the buildings, all of the interior, over the winter.”