Retirement big dig starts this week

Murchison Villas Limited director Ebel Kremer (left), chief executive Brian McCandless and director Sarah Greaney (top) with members of the project's original steering committee Glenys Johnstone (centre), Linda Killeen and Garth Stewart.

Construction on Fiordland's groundbreaking retirement village began this week, with hopes to have the first house finished by the end of this year.

Murchison Villas Limited directors and their project predecessors were thrilled to see the build of retirement village "Murchison Villas" officially kick off in Te Anau.

Work on the first phase of the project, which includes 10 homes that have been sold from $355,000 to $450,000, began this week along a section of Pop Andrew Drive behind the Fiordland Medical Centre.

Murchison Villas Limited chief executive Brian McCandless said work on building the trenches for services was set to begin yesterday (July 11), with the hope that houses would begin to be built next month.

"I think it's a momentous day for the project."

Director Sarah Greaney said on Tuesday, when there were builders and a digger already on site, that it was exciting to see it being built after all the years of hard work that had been leading up to this moment.

The dream of having such a village in Te Anau has been around for decades, and members of the steering committee that preceded the current project were also thrilled. 

Former steering committee member and previous Fiordland Retirement Trust secretary Glenys Johnstone said it would be a valuable asset for the town, and the two-and-a-half years it took to get to this moment was worth it.

Former member Linda Killeen said she was very excited for the community.

"It's just the right time," she said. 

Mr McCandless and director Ebel Kremer said taking a simplified approach to the project, having "unabashedly non-commercial" aims, the support the Southland District Council transferring the land to them for the cost of a $1, and a loan at less-than-commercial rates from the Community Trust of Southland all helped contribute to getting the project off the ground. 

Houses were still being sold for the second phase of the project, and Mr Kremer and Mrs Greaney said they were confident sales would continue to progress.


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