Cairn’s off-campus housing site becomes part of Mill Creek Village Apartments
In 1979, Cairn University purchased the Concorde Apartments, located about a half-mile from its brand-new Langhorne campus, to serve as its sole residential facility for students. This summer, those same facilities, known to today’s students as the Penndel Apartments, will be reopened to the public under the ownership of the adjacent Mill Creek Village Apartments. As the University transitions to all-on-campus housing, the site will be remembered for its unique niche in Cairn’s residential offerings as the University’s oldest (and only off-campus) student housing.
When the Penndel Apartments were first acquired in 1979, they were originally intended to be a short-term housing solution until on-campus facilities could be built. At the time, Trustee Dr. Francis Brown ’80 said that “the board views off-campus dormitory housing as a temporary measure that is to be corrected by on-campus dormitories as soon as possible, probably within three to five years.” A motion to approve the purchase of the apartments only passed with the addition of this proviso.
However, by the time five new residence halls had been constructed in the early 1990s, the board’s original timeline of just half a decade was long overshot. The apartments were retained even through the 2005 purchase of the Brighton at Lakeside assisted living facility on the south edge of campus, transformed in 10 short weeks into today’s Heritage Hall, which houses women in one wing and men in another.
However, a master facility plan completed in 2007 pinpointed the sale of Penndel and construction of new housing as one of the University’s highest priorities. Continued concerns with the Penndel facility included the costs of a shuttle service and maintenance of the aging buildings, as well as limited parking; employees and the board continued to express the desirability of the efficiency and energy brought to campus culture through newly constructed on-campus housing.
Within the past year, the property peaked in monetary value, and several buyers expressed interest. These factors coincided with the ability to accommodate the entire undergraduate student body in the existing Heritage Hall and five Manor Residence Halls. On Wednesday, June 28, the University closed the sale with the adjacent Mill Creek Village Apartments, who will renovate and add the facilities to their current offerings.
While students will miss its basement kitchens, open lounges, and co-ed visiting hours, the sale of the Penndel Apartments realizes the vision of its purchasers to bring the entire student body into a single on-campus community. The proceeds both strengthen the University’s financial position and set the stage for new construction of residence halls as the student body grows.
“Penndel has served us well,” said President Dr. Todd Williams in emails to employees and students on Thursday. “There are some aspects of it we will miss, and I am sure some students and alumni will experience bittersweet emotions at the news of this sale. However, I see the sovereign hand of God in this transaction. He has opened a door for us to exercise good stewardship and advance the work of the University.”