As a student, Steve Jones could not have imagined he would one day help redevelop his primary school.
Back then, Saint Patrick's Primary School was a thriving Catholic boys institution with a large classroom block, hall and extensive playground.
The school, later named Sts Peter and Paul's, finally closed in 1998. Fast forward a few years and Mr Jones, along with his business partner in Cartwright/Verner Pty Ltd, Robert Rampton, are owners of several parcels of the land at the site and are on the cusp of opening Goulburn's newest motel.
'The Abbey Motel' on Verner Street will open in early July. The 29-room, two-storey building opposite Sts Peter and Paul's Cathedral, sits within a heritage precinct. Mr Jones said he'd given architect Tim Lee a brief to reflect surrounding architectural elements in the design, such as its distinctive arches.
"The same type of bricks and roof tiles used in the old hall have been employed in the motel. There are also timber lined eves and exposed beams and gables and a specially made wrought iron veranda that replicates what was on the hall originally," he said.
"It's all very functional. We wanted a boutique style motel to give it warmth and every room is designed to have as much light as possible."
The mix of twin and king-size rooms average 32 square metres each. All are equipped with modern conveniences and are aimed at accommodating business people and general visitors to town, in a location close to the CBD.
The $4 million to $4.5m development has taken two years and has employed all local subcontractors and mostly local materials. Mr Jones said it would have started earlier but for a fire and consequent redevelopment of the nearby Centrelink building in Auburn Street in 2016, which the partners also own.
The company gained DA approval for a 42-room motel with onsite parking on the former Saint Pat's site in 2016. Plans are afoot to complete the remaining 15 rooms in a separate building at the rear.
The 1913 - 1915 hall, host to many wedding receptions and functions over the years, will also receive an overhaul.
Several years ago, the construction firm hauled tonnes of pigeon droppings from its roof cavity. More recently its stairs have been refurbished and work has begun on an upstairs office for the company. The downstairs section will be transformed into a cafe/function area over the next 18 months to complement the motel.
"We were in the process of getting some cafe owners interested in running it but then coronavirus hit," Mr Jones said.
The hall, built by King and Armstrong, also originally comprised meeting, reading and classrooms, and a billiard area, a heritage study stated.
Mr Rampton and Mr Jones have progressively acquired land lots on the site, formerly owned by the Catholic Church. These include the former Saint Pat's Technical School on Bourke Street and the old Christian Brothers' accommodation nearby, both of which have been refurbished. Two years ago they also completed seven townhouses on the northern aspect, off Cartwight Place, all of which have sold.
Mr Rampton said there was clear demand for smaller, easily accessible and low maintenance villas close to town.
The property's overhaul has won plaudits from parishioners, some of whom have requested tours of the new motel.
"We're very pleased with the result," Mr Jones said.
The motel will open in early July and employ eight people.
Meantime, the partners have just completed 80 storage units in Lockyer Street at South Goulburn. They are also renovating the former Go-Lo building in Auburn Street.
Mr Rampton said the local construction industry had not been badly affected by coronavirus and the JobKeeper program had injected confidence into the sector.
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