Christchurch 'a hole' in Summerset plan

Retirement village and care group Summerset says it needs a presence in Christchurch given it is the largest city in the South Island, but will continue to watch earthquake-recovery developments while thinking about a land purchase in the city.

Summerset, which listed on the NZX last year, gave an update yesterday on its South Island strategy, including the recent start on work on its newest development in Wakari, Dunedin.

Chief executive Norah Barlow said the new Bishopscourt in Dunedin would be Summerset's second village in the South Island. It would spend more than $40 million developing it over a five-year period.

The first stage of building in Dunedin would feature 30 semi-detached townhouses, with the first scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

"Eventually the village will feature more than 100 homes, 40 care beds as part of a care facility, and be home to up to 200 residents," Barlow said.

Summerset had already had high demand for the village from throughout the South Island, particularly Christchurch.

Having a village in the heart of the south cemented Summerset's place as a nationwide operator, though Christchurch was still a hole in that plan, she said. The firm continued to look at potential sites, and before the quakes had looked in Marshland.

"Christchurch is still absolutely there for us. When we're looking at Christchurch we just want to wait until Cera [the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority] gets where its going and all the issues [become transparent] ..."

The new Dunedin village would help Summerset achieve a target of developing 155 units this year. The operator had a longer term target of developing 250 units a year within five years of its listing date.

Summerset, the third largest operator in the industry behind Ryman Healthcare and Metlifecare, was moving into the third stage of its $80m Sargeson St, Stoke site near Nelson.

Shares in Summerset closed unchanged yesterday at $1.67c. It listed at $1.40 in November.