Summerset announces Cambridge move

Eight hectares along Victoria Rd, at 80 Laurent Rd, have been purchased by Summerset Holdings Ltd to develop a retirement village and rest home complex. As an eight-year Cambridge resident, regional operations manager Cecilia Storm (pictured at the site) was rapt to see the company bring its services to Cambridge.

Summerset Holdings has bought eight hectares of land in Cambridge to build a new retirement village.

Developers are planning 200 homes, 70 apartments, a rest home, hospital-level care and a dementia unit on the Laurent Rd site.

The company is entering a an already crowded market – but is confident of the pending demand for the village.

Chief Executive Julian Cook said Waipa’s 75-plus population is set to increase by 45% over the next decade and Summerset had been looking for suitable investments in the Cambridge area for some time.

The 22-year old New Zealand company, which in February announced a $98.6 million underlying profit for the financial year, has bought 10 sites around the country in the last 18 months. It already owns 26 villages, either completed or in development.

The company is awaiting Overseas Investment Office approval for the Cambridge land purchase, which should come by the end of the year.

The company could not provide a completion date, but Julian Cook said a typical Summerset village took between 4-5 years to complete once construction commenced.

The construction phase will see the company invest $150 million and employ more than 300 people at the Cambridge North site. Cook said the company’s construction management division would try to source construction supply chain members locally where possible. Up to 40 further permanent jobs will be created when the village opens.

Summerset’s lower northern regional operations manager Cecilia Storm, who will manage the Cambridge Summerset village after its completion, said the project was especially close to her heart having been a Cambridge resident for eight years.

“For me it’s just a huge privilege to think I can bring something back to Cambridge and be part of it, something which I know will really serve the community well,” she said. “It’s not only looking after 70-plus residents, it’s looking after the community too, providing job opportunities as well as the sense of security that your loved ones are taken care of really well.”

Cecilia confirmed people could sign up as residents as soon as resource consent was completed. For now, those interested can email their contact details to [email protected] and Summerset will be in touch with more details.

A map shows the boundary of the newly-purchased Summerset site in Cambridge.

Retiring in style…

The arrival of Summerset  underlines the growing popularity of retiring in style.

Cambridge has several retirement villages and aged care facilities, including two Lifecare hospital facilities, the Te Awa Lifecare Village, Raeburn Rest Home, Oakdale Rest Home, Lauriston Park Retirement Village, and resthomes and villages provided by Resthaven and Selwyn St Andrews.

Cambridge Oaks isn’t technically a retirement village but a townhouse complex for those over 50. It’s 80 percent sold with residents in 100 homes already, and due to be finished by the end of next year.

Companies are now seeing a demand from senior citizens who want to invest in a resort-style life-style.

Outside Cambride, the Tamahere Eventide Home and Village, under construction, will add 24  ensuited hospital rooms and 16 apartments by December, followed by 18 more apartments and 20 villas to be constructed after the completion of the Waikato Expressway. The company also plans to add 80 villas and 20 apartments to its Matangi home and hospital, Atawhai Assisi.

Cambridge Grey Power President Val Massey said she was pleased to see Cambridge gaining infrastructure to support its growing number of retirees.

“We do need them, after all some of our existing (retirement villages) are running out of room. We’re only going to get more older people, more than what we have enough buildings for.”

Cambridge Grey Power is growing too, with just under 400 members and new members joining nearly every week.

“We’ve got members who live in retirement villages and they love it,” said Val. “They’re brilliant for older people, it gives them a sense of security and a lot of their home maintenance is taken care of.”

Having looked into moving into a retirement village herself, Val said they weren’t exactly for everyone.

“From what I could see it would cost more to live in a retirement village than an average home, and I like a bit of space, so it wasn’t for me.

“I was warned by one friend that you’ve got to know exactly what you want if you go into it, because if you change your mind you’ve already lost the value of your home in selling. It’s not just the living costs, it’s the actual loss you make. I would advise getting financial advice first so you know what it’s going to cost.”

Alan and Joan Parker said they have no regrets in moving into the St Kilda retirement village.

St Kilda village residents Alan and Joan Parker said they had no regrets in selling their home of 32 years in Pauanui and moving to the Cambridge retirement village four years ago.

“We left with no regrets, just good memories,” said Joan. “The biggest thing was downsizing, that was hard.”

“But it’s amazing what you could do without when you get down to it,” added Alan. “The op shops must do really well!”

“It was a good time to clean out all the debris of our life and start again with some fresh stuff, and some old stuff too,” said Joan. “Here the grass is cut, we don’t have to garden if we don’t want to, and it’s just time to do what you want. And it’s a place to make friends of similar age and interests.

“To some extent we were looking to become part of a family community, like the early days in Pauanui, and that’s what we’ve found here.”

The pair said they were happy to see Cambridge’s number of retirement villages growing, so long as other demographics follow suit. “It is good, provided the whole area doesn’t consist of majority-retired people, and there’s a counterbalance by young families moving in, which I think the subdivision next door is doing,” said Alan.

Is it worth it?

Retirement villages provide a safe and supportive environment, but they come at a cost.

Nationwide, five private operators – Summerset, Bupa, Metlifecare, Ryman Healthcare and Oceania – control more than 50 per cent of the market.

Rather than owning units residents often “buy” a licence to occupy, with prices starting at under $150,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Residents (and their estates) will usually miss out on any capital gains from rising property prices if they move out or pass away. Capital gains are normally taken by the village operator and are one of the most significant sources of revenue for operators. This means that residents who moved into a village in Auckland 10 years ago would have missed out on the approximate doubling of that region’s property prices.

Some retirement villages – though not many – do offer the option to own the unit and benefit from capital gains.

A weekly fee is also charged to cover the day-to-day running of the village, ranging from $90 to $170 depending on what services and facilities are provided.

But some residents say it’s worth it, with social activities and entertainment facilities geared to help seniors retire in style.

Many villages provide community centres with entertainment systems, libraries, billiards, and even hair salons and cafes.

Club-like groups are formed, like gardening, craft and “men’s sheds”, and on-site events are planned, including movie nights, high teas and even happy hour.

Outings are planned too, which some residents say gives them a good “push” to actually go and check out a place they’d been meaning to visit for years.

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