Wellington City Council poised to spend $33m on Arlington Apartment block

An architects' impression of the complex's large, sunny courtyard, bordered by three-storey multi-unit buildings with ...

An architects' impression of the complex's large, sunny courtyard, bordered by three-storey multi-unit buildings with glass stairwells

Tenants are entering their final months in a council apartment block, as plans are stepped up for its replacement.

The $33 million demolition and rebuild of Arlington Apartments, a 57-unit housing block, took a step closer on Friday when the Wellington City Council said it would seek resource consent for a new building on the site.

Built in the 1970s, the concrete block apartments are cold and have weather-tightness issues as well as needing earthquake strengthening.

Arlington Apartments, as they are now.

Arlington Apartments, as they are now.

Now a consortium including Hawkins Construction and architects Novak+Middleton has been named the preferred tenderer.

Resource consent  for the development, which borders Taranaki, Hopper and Hankey streets, is expected to be lodged by the end of the year.

If it is granted, work will begin in March next year with a completion date of mid-2017.

The work is part of a wider $400m programme funded by the Wellington City Council and government to upgrade all the council's social housing, most of which dates back to the 1960s and 1970s.

Some of the Arlington tenants have already moved out but one of the remaining residents is Angela Meiklejohn, who has been there three years.

The apartments were "freezing" in a southerly, but the residents shared a sense of community also, she said.

Some were apprehensive about leaving, including one lady in a wheelchair who had not yet been found another ground-floor flat.

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Another family had been forced to move to Johnsonville, away from the kid's school and their food business.

But Meiklejohn was pleased the council was doing the work. "I've seen the ones around Wellington that have been upgraded and they look gorgeous."

Councillor Paul Eagle, who chairs the committee responsible for social housing, said the new building would usher in a new era of flexible rental housing for some of Wellingtonians most vulnerable citizens.

Designs for the new modular-style apartments show the council would be able to put nearly double the number of people on the site, with no loss of floorspace and a courtyard.

Architect Simon Novak said the current apartments were at the end of their life and did not make good use of the space.

The units could be reconfigured internally to accommodate different sized households, according to need.

"We think it's state-of-the-art social housing. We do a lot of social housing work and this is really innovative in terms of its modularity and flexibility.

"Rather than build specific apartment types, you can go and build a whole lot of family units and then find out in five years time the demand is for one bedroom units and then you can't meet the requirements."

The block's current 57 units will be replaced with 105 new apartments, accommodating up to 324 residents – almost the twice number of residents currently housed there.

A large communal park in the middle of the complex would be a particularly nice feature, Novak said.

Meanwhile, efforts to rehouse the existing tenants continued.

Council spokeswoman Leigh Strange said about 20 families had chosen to move into the council's newly renovated Berkerley Dallard block in Brooklyn Rd, on the understanding it was a one-way move.

The others had chosen to stay on until about Christmas or whenever construction started.

The council estimates it will take 20 years to upgrade all its housing.

 - Stuff

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