Shingle by Shingle, Zion Changing
Roofers are replacing red shingles on Belton Court as the slow transformation of the former Bible college into a reported academy for Chinese students continues.
Roofers are back again at the former Zion Bible College campus in Barrington as its transformation into a reported academy for Chinese students continues slowly.
Workers for E&E Contracting of Woonsocket were replacing broken red shingles with new red shingles on the roof of Belton Court -- the castle-like dominant building on the campus. One by one the shingles were being replaced last week, a painstaking process that may take another month.
Fixing the leaky roof is the first step of turning the campus into a nonprofit academy for pre-college international students, mostly Chinese, said Wang Qi, who said he is assistant manager of the renovation project for the owner, Shineharmony Holdings Inc. of Waltham, Mass.
The owner of the school, Liangming Qi, of Weston, Mass., then will begin work on the interior, said Qi. The owner could not be reached last week, he said, because he is in China.
His goal is still to turn the former Bible college into a boarding school for international students, mostly from China and Taiwan, and most in the 18-20 age range. The school, listed in incorporation papers as the Q & D Gifted Academy, would offer three-, six- and nine-month programs to help international students get acclimated to the U.S. before attending college.
“Mr. Qi has always wanted to start a school,” said Qi.
Shineharmony also is looking to form partnerships with area colleges, Qi said last Friday afternoon, Aug, 3. Representatives of colleges should contact the owner if they are interested in such a partnership, he said.
Lianming Qi purchased the former college campus for $3.5 million last fall. Its transformation continues to intrigue neighbors and town officials, who have been informed of the same plan for the campus, said Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr.
Outside of this general plan for the campus, however, DeAngelis said, the town knows very little. It is beginning to appear that the campus was purchased without a solid plan for a school.
Qi and Emily Lu, a Johnson & Wales University graduate who appears to be the primary manager for the project, said previously that between 100 and 200 students will live at the school. A potential opening date has not been mentioned.
Shineharmony also plans to fix up the gymnasium across the entrance street from Belton Court.
Qi also will serve as a director of the academy along with Xingbin Xiao of 33 Middle Highway, Barrington, the academy’s registered agent, and Xiaodong Liu of 10 Femdale Road, Natick, Mass.
The address for Zion has been changed to 33 Middle Highway, suggesting that, perhaps, at least one of the directors plans to live on the site.
Shineharmony also continues to appeal its property taxes, Qi said. That appeal is being handled by a Barrington attorney, Josh Berlinsky.
Berlinsky said previously that Shineharmony wants to reduce the assessed value to what it paid for the property, about $3.5 million. The 39.5-acre property is assessed at almost $13 million. The annual tax is about $230,000.
The property was tax-exempt as a college. But it became a private property last Dec. 9 when the sale closed. The tax exemption went away.
Of course, if the property is turned into another educational facility -- as Shineharmony has indicated it will, it would become tax-exempt again.