Retirement village dreams down drain

"Stressful roller coaster ride."

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 16/10/2012
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CAMERON BURNELL
Wanaka Bay has been sold five years after it opended.

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A Bell Block retirement village has gone bust five years after it opened with just nine of the planned 151 "luxury" villas ever built.

Wanaka Bay Village on Wills Rd has been deregistered as a retirement village and residents of its nine villas are in the process of moving out.

When opened in 2007 it was planned to build 151 villas at the site for people aged 55 and over with $299,000 to $339,000 to spend on a unit.

It was also planned to have an indoor pool, spa, an all-weather bowling green, indoor bowls, a gymnasium, an all-weather tennis court/croquet court and a dance floor.

It appeared none of these facilities had been built yesterday and when Taranaki Daily News visited the office was locked and unused.

It is understood the development has been sold to another party in a deal that sees residents walk away with what they paid for their units.

The buyer is believed to be Milife, which runs Bell Vista retirement village in Bell Block and other villages in Levin and Palmerston North.

Milife director David Tyler said they had been aware of the difficult situation facing residents at the village and had bought the assets on the condition they received a full payout of their purchase price.

Several residents had chosen to move to Milife's Bell Vista village in Bell Block, he said.

In a letter to the newspaper, one resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the last two years had been a "stressful roller coaster ride" that began when funds to develop facilities and the village "dried up".

Threats of going into receivership and losing their money kept residents on edge and left them worried they would be tossed out with nothing.

While residents had been refunded their purchase price, it did not meet market rates and added to their stress and dismay, the letter writer said.

Prior to the sale of the village the Daily News understands it was managed by Bell Block couple Heather and Maurice Marshall.

They could not be contacted yesterday.

The facility was developed and initially run by GD Property Group Ltd owned by Darren Stewart and Greg Earp. Mr Earp said yesterday he had been out of the business for four years.

Frank Lowry of the Association of Residents of Retirement Villages for Taranaki and Wanganui said he sympathised with the plight of the residents.

"It is most unfortunate for people having to relocate when they thought this would be their move," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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