Media release - First residents soon for retirement housing in Te Anau

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An ambitious community project to create affordable retirement housing in Te Anau is getting set to welcome its first residents.

The first four Murchison Villas on Pop Andrew Drive are nearing completion, with another six in stage one under construction. Stage two, featuring the final 13 homes, is about to go on the market.

Fiordland Retirement Housing Trust chairman Brian McCandless said the first residents were expected in March.

“This has been a truly collaborative project and it will be exciting to see them finally occupied,” he said.

Southland District councillor Ebel Kremer, who is also a member of the trust, said the project was testament to the vision of local residents.

“It’s Te Anau looking after Te Anau people and it’s such a worthy project to be involved in which is going to benefit so many,” he said.

“It’s been locals who have got their heads together and we’re proud to see the fruition of those ideas from way back.

“We had to take a few calculated risks to move this forward but I’m pleased we have. There have been some real pressure points but the trust members have had the backbone to say ‘we’re going to make this work’. We knew if it didn’t happen now, it never, ever will.”

North-facing with mountain views and adjacent to the Fiordland Medical Centre, the land originally earmarked for retirement housing 20 years ago was gifted by Southland District Council to the trust for $1.

“That gave us the opportunity to keep the prices down and create affordable, high-quality housing for this generation,” Mr Kremer said.

“By doing it as a not-for-profit and volunteering our time, that’s how it all stacked up.”

With a price tag around the $350,000 mark, the homes cost significantly less than comparable properties in other regions. The development had an edge over other providers of retirement village housing because buyers would own their property 100% freehold with a body corporate maintaining the site on behalf of the trust.

Community Trust South provided a substantial loan to enable construction of the first 10 villas to start a year ago.

“We were seeing elderly people leave Te Anau and leave their friends and an area they’ve lived in for a very long time because there was no provision for people to stay once they got to a point where their own property was too big for their needs or to look after,” Mr Kremer said.

“We identified a need, got the right people around the table to progress it and said ‘let’s do this’, so it’s rewarding to now see it all become a reality.

“The majority of the villas so far have been sold to local people and that’s exactly what we were after. Now we can open it up to the wider Southland community as a real opportunity for people who want to retire to Te Anau,” Mr Kremer said.

The criteria set up state residents must be 60 years old or older and prohibit using the property as a holiday home, with a cap on the number of days it can be left empty. It can be purchased and rented, but only to people of that age group.

Open homes start on March 3.

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