Summerset in the Sun has more than doubled its staff with the opening of a $10 million "village centre" at its growing Stoke retirement village.
Summerset chief executive Norah Barlow, Housing Minister and Nelson MP Nick Smith and Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese were joined by most of the village's 160 residents and representatives of the project team, builders and contractors for the official opening at an afternoon tea yesterday.
The centre has a cafe, bar and social areas, a hairdressing salon, an exercise room, a library and IT suite, a spa pool and a large outdoor bowling green.
It has a 42-bed care centre providing rest home and hospital-level care, and 15 apartments where residents can get DHB-certified rest home level care. Another wing will be built on demand, adding another 17 beds and a dozen more care apartments.
Village manager James Hamilton said the staff had grown from 12 to around 30, including nurses and caregivers who would be on hand "24/7" once the first village centre residents moved in.
The village was around two-thirds built, he said, with construction to begin on a new part of the site near Nayland Rd shortly, and then a final housing development on the southern side. The extension to the village centre would probably begin by the end of the year.
When all parts of the project were finished there would be around 350 residents, Mr Hamilton said.
Mrs Barlow said Summerset in the Sun had grown into "a truly warm community", with many great friendships between residents.
"We might put the bricks and mortar up ... you're the people that make the village what it is."
She said the village centre represented a significant investment in Nelson's community. Over the nine months of construction there were an average of 60 tradespeople on site, with a Summerset village of comparable size contributing $2 million a year in wages to the local economy.
Ms Reese said the development was "better than anything I could have imagined. It is a wonderful result".
The village centre was a significant investment for Nelson and particularly the Stoke community, she said.
"We look forward to having an ongoing relationship with Summerset. You are a big part of this community."
Dr Smith said he aimed to get about 27,000 new homes built across New Zealand this year, a massive challenge for the building sector, councils and the Government.
The provision of retirement villages was part of the solution because it freed up a huge number of under-used family homes.
"Across New Zealand we have over 200,000 three and four-bedroomed homes that have only one resident in them. At the same time one of the big struggles of my job is actually to find suitable housing for families.
"Large, effective, well-provisioned retirement villages like Summerset has built here are actually part of the broader solution that New Zealand needs as we meet that large demand and pressure on housing."
Over the next 20 years the population of retired New Zealanders was going to grow by about half a million. Retirement villages were an efficient way to deliver good quality services, he said, and Summerset in the Sun provided "magnificent facilities".
"But that's not what's going to make this place. How are we as a country going to be able to cope with that ageing population: by getting better at looking after each other," Dr Smith said.
Summerset is the third largest operator, and the second largest developer of retirement villages in New Zealand, with 17 villages across the country, and six sites awaiting development.
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