News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The Ministry of Public Works wishes to advise of the present disposition of Wantley House located at 20 Princess Street, City of Hamilton.
Members of the public would be aware that the property has been in disrepair for many years and has unfortunately become a site for illicit drug use resulting in further damage from fires. Despite the Bermuda Housing Corporation frequently boarding up all the entryways to prevent illegal access and use of the building, the problem has persisted.
In early 2020 the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation was working to repurpose the building and make it into their headquarters. However, following a fire in December 2020, a structural appraisal was required and has been carried out.
The appraisal report advised that the building required a complete overhaul, including installing new plumbing and electrical, structural repairs, costly restoration work, and finishes inside and out. The estimated cost to bring the building up to code was $1.2-$1.3 million. The report further advised that it would be more cost-effective to demolish the structure and rebuild than carry out these costly renovations.
While the building’s history was very much considered, in light of this information and the fact that the property was a health and safety issue for area residents and the adjacent Diabetes Association building, the Bermuda Housing Corporation made the difficult decision to demolish the structure.
The proposed demolition was tendered and a permit granted. However, although the building is not Listed, its location in a Historic Protection Area requires planning permission to demolish. The Bermuda Housing Corporation must submit a planning application and seek approval to demolish the building.
A Government spokesman said: “ This is a historic location in Hamilton, and it is unfortunate that it cannot be restored to what it once was. However, the legacy of Samuel David Robinson and the importance of his contribution to the development of a lasting institution in Bermuda (The Berkeley Institute) will be honoured and preserved when the location is redeveloped.”