Demand driving village's growth

PETER WATSON
Last updated 13:00 09/01/2013

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Work will start next week on a $10.6 million care and amenities building at Summerset's retirement village in Stoke.

The two-storey building project, one of the largest under way in the region, is the latest stage in the construction of the $80m village, which already has 70 residents and 102 completed villas.

It is expected to take up to 150 workers about 14 months to build a 38-bed care centre and 15 care apartments.

The building will also contain rooms for a doctor and other health professionals, a cafe, a hairdresser, dining and lounge areas, a large commercial kitchen, meeting rooms and offices.

Another 22 care beds, 10 care apartments and 25 other apartments, with underground car parking, will be added later, when market demand justifies it.

When complete, it will provide permanent jobs for 60 care, medical and service staff.

The village, which Summerset took over in September 2011 after previous developer Gracefield Living got into financial difficulty, has proved to be one of the fastest-growing villages of the 15 it operates in New Zealand.

Summerset in the Sun manager James Hamilton said the new building would be the centrepiece, and would make the village more complete by providing residents with a wide range of facilities at no extra cost.

While some were initially unsure about living next door to a big construction site, they had warmed to it "because everyone is getting older".

"They are all for it, can't wait for it to start - and see it as a real plus."

The company had already received inquiries from people wanting to know when the building would be finished so they could move in, he said.

Steps would be taken to minimise dust and noise, and Summerset had an excellent rapport with Scott Construction, which had built more than 40 villas over the past year without receiving any complaints from residents, he said.

"At some stages, we had more than 80 workmen on site, and I would imagine there will be more this year, given the size of the main building and that villas will continue to be built."

He said it would also pump a lot of money into the local economy.

The bed care centre would provide resthome, respite and hospital-level care and would be staffed fulltime by registered nurses, with access to medical services including a doctor, chemist, podiatrist and physiotherapist, Mr Hamilton said.

The one-bedroom care apartments would be certified up to resthome-level care and be priced from $175,000 to $225,000.

Meanwhile, another 40 villas were scheduled to be built over the next year, as demand continued to be strong despite the tough economic conditions, he said.

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About three-quarters of the units already built had been sold.

Prices ranged from $265,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $430,000 for a three-bedroom unit with double garage. The most popular were two-bedroom villas with a single garage at $299,000.

"Demand has well and truly exceeded what we expected. The stage we are building at present has been brought forward by a year."

Mr Hamilton attributed much of the demand for units to the "fantastic ambience and feel" of the village.

"Our residents are selling it themselves."

There had been an initial influx of people from Christchurch after the earthquakes there, but most of the residents were Nelsonians.

Buyers also knew the costs before they signed up, so were able to plan ahead, he said.

Much of the roading work had been completed, and other amenities were being added. A communal vegetable garden had been planted, an activities shed was planned, and an all-weather bowling green would be completed within six months.

Once finished, the village, which has consent to build 217 units on the eight-hectare site, will house between 350 and 400 people.

- The Nelson Mail

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