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Apartments sparkle after makeover

ELLE HUNT
REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 31/10/2012
Sonia Richardson
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

NEW LOOK: Sonia Richardson and her ‘‘million- dollar views’’ at her apartment in the council-owned Central Park complex in Wellington.

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What Sonia Richardson doesn't know about the Central Park Apartments isn't worth knowing - and she reckons their $34 million upgrade is "absolutely phenomenal".

Ms Richardson has lived in the council flats at the foot of Brooklyn hill since 2007, and said she "knows the place back to front".

The five-building complex, now home to 220 people, was reopened yesterday after a two-year, $34.4m upgrade.

Ms Richardson, who has impaired vision and uses a white cane to get around, said the old building was an "absolute shocker".

"There was no security. People used to come in off the street and sleep in the stairwells."

Rubbish disposal was "diabolical", with tenants often having to use broomsticks to unblock clogged rubbish chutes.

The upgrade began in June 2010 as part of a $400m joint project by central and local government to improve Wellington's social housing.

Ms Richardson said the construction work did not bother her. "Other tenants used to say: 'Oh, it's noisy,' and I'd say: 'Well, just think what you're coming back to. The difference is going to be amazing'."

She spent a year at the Arlington Apartments in Hopper St while the work was done, and returned to Central Park early last month. The upgrade, she said, was "absolutely phenomenal".

Her new apartment, on the fifth floor of the 10-storey tower block, has double-glazed windows, new carpet and "million-dollar views" over Te Aro. "We're very, very lucky. That's how I feel. It's made a big difference to me."

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Housing Minister Phil Heatley opened the complex yesterday afternoon.

Ms Wade-Brown said the upgrade was a vast improvement on the "long corridors and smelly stairwells" of the past.

Project manager Rachel Van Doorn said changes such as increased security, better lighting and more communal areas had increased residents' peace of mind.

The number of apartments had decreased from 213 units to 190 as apartments were made larger.

"Tenants have gone from having 212 neighbours to about 30 immediate neighbours . . . and are now likely to get to know each other."

 

Contact Elle Hunt
Reporter
Email: elle.hunt@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @mlle_elle

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