The Old Hospital is a huge success
More than year has passed since we got the keys for The Old Hospital and the hostel in October 2018. It's been almost two years since we started up the whole project.
A group of four women dreaming a dream. Not the same dream, which meant we spent a lot of time on alignment of our individual expectations.
"Dreams can take you far - but elbow grease is strongly recommended!"
And boy, did we dream
The Old Hospital is an old hospital building right in the centre of Brande. The place was built 1905 for due to the rapidly growth of the town. The first steps to create insulin were made here. the building itself is quite impressing, centered where the two largest crossroads meet.
Later a house for the nurses was added with a (now filled) tunnel between the two buildings. In 1964 the hospital was closed and both buildings became a hostel, youth centre and later a retirement home for elderly people. When a new retirement home was added to the premises, the hostel took over again. Eventually the "new" retirement home was also no longer required and for some years all three buildings were hostel.
When we took over, the municipality was the owner of all building and had a tenant for the hostel. since the municipality was no longer interested in running a hostel, it was planned to be shut down.
The elbow grease
We took over completely emptied buildings, with only mouse shit and cobweb. The district heating was not maintained for years, which meant we started up with huge bills for heating and warm water. The hospital building stayed closed while we focused on getting the hostel up and running again.
We used the little money we had on decorating one (1!) room, renting it out for a week, investing the money earned on decorating another room and retning that out too. So it went room after room up, until Christmas where we had 7 rooms ready. The hostel was a huge success, given the circumstances that we had to start up from point zero.
In January had equipped almost all 23 rooms with furniture and had found a new tenant to take care of daily business - a local café - and we could focus on the hospital building.
The smell of what can best be describes as a "damp cellar" hung in the air - and was absorbed by our cloths, skin and hair. The winter was fortunately dry and mild, so we could ventilate the whole building. All rooms and the hallways were carpeted and the smell stuck deep.
We began cleaning one room after another. Fortunately, a lot of local companies - especially one - gifted us with a lot of furniture. Desks, office chairs, conference room furniture and something as practical as garbage cans for each room.
We desperately needed more income, so first goal was to turn first floor into two-bedroom apartments. A lot of trips to the local charity buying kitchen utilities and furniture. Also a lot of locals gifted us no longer used furniture from their attics.
Within a few weeks we were able to rent out rooms, mainly to Polish factory workers who just needed a place to crash. the kitchens were completely run down and bathrooms in the hallway were also ready for some elbow grease.
We were so fortunate, that a kitchen factory sold us new kitchens for almost nothing. They even sponsored a fitter to help us mounting everything. Until then, no local companies had been willing to sponsor anything. Then things went fast. A painter showed up almost a whole week with all his painters, sponsoring paint and working hours. The local flooring company sponsored new vinyl floors in the kitchens, carpet in all rooms and hallways, another flooring company made new epoxy floors in the bathrooms.
One by one the apartments were brought to new life. We put up the rent, which made the Polish guests leave. A few weeks we had refurbished apartments and no tenants and that made us quite nervous. However, suddenly it was rumoured among expats that we rented cheap apartments and one-bed rooms with shared kitchen and bathrooms out.
Six months later, we in the very fortunate situations we have a waiting list!
Our tenants are mainly from India - expats staying here for 3-6 months mostly. Some come alone, some bring their family.
We have had a few dine-together events, where we all bring a dish and eat and talk. This is also a great success and it will be something we are going to do on a regular basis.