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One of North Otago’s largest construction projects in recent memory, the Observatory Retirement Village complex, is taking shape. Thirteen months after construction began, Oamaru Mail reporter Daniel Birchfield headed up Stoke St for a look.

Half a dozen apartments have been sold at the Observatory Retirement Village and potential buyers are putting in offers for several more.

Construction of the $21 million village on Hospital Hill, overlooking Oamaru, has entered its final five months.

All 12 apartments have been built, and construction of the 41-bed care facility and community wing, which will feature several amenities, is well advanced.

The construction of three stand-alone villas, including garages, is also under way, and people who have expressed an interest in viewing them are set to do so later this month.

Cosy . . . The bedroom in one of the single-bedroom apartments. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

In total, 18 villas will be constructed as part of stage one of the project.

Observatory Village Lifecare (OVL) director Peter Robinson said the apartments had proved popular with potential buyers who had viewed them.

Local service groups, including Lions and Rotary clubs, Altrusa and Age Concern, have been given guided tours of the facility outside work hours and away from construction zones.

“So far, we’ve had three or four lots of 12 to 15 people through looking at apartments. At last count, there was over 100, say 120, expressions of interest. They are interested in apartments, villas and the rest-home itself.”

Mr Robinson confirmed six apartments had been sold and another four were under offer.

He said OVL was pleased with the number of confirmed sales and was confident the trend would continue.

“We’re thrilled. It was an unknown for us, but we were confident North Otago people would take to them. We didn’t quite know because it was new for the area.

Functional . . . A single-bedroom apartment kitchen. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

“We’ve kept the prices sharp and the build quality is outstanding. People who have looked at other places have said our apartments were far superior.”

The apartments are on the market for between $195,000 and $379,000.

Those at the high end of the price scale are more spacious –¬†four of the 12 apartments have two bedrooms, while the other eight are single-bedroom.

He expected all of the apartments to have tenants ready to move in on August 1, while the care facility would also be full due to Rendell on Reed, which has 50 residents, closing.

OVL has created Reed St Healthcare to look after the care of Rendell on Reed’s residents, who will be given the option of relocating to the new facility.

“The way things are going, we’re going to have that balance of those 41 beds filled by Rendell on Reed. We have already had a lot of indication that’s what’s going to happen.”

Existing Rendell on Reed staff would have the opportunity to apply for jobs at the village, Mr Robinson said.

Idyllic . . .The view of Oamaru from Observatory Retirement Village’s premier apartment. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Patients being cared for at Takaro Lodge, at Oamaru Hospital, would be transferred to the village. That space would be utilised by the hospital for “other purposes”, Mr Robinson said.

He said there was potential for up to 32 further apartments and 80 villas to be constructed.

A design for part of the second stage of the project, an additional 40-bed care facility, has been approved to proceed. A two-storey apartment block is also planned but construction will not begin for two to three years.

Barring any delays, Mr Robinson expected construction of stage one of the village to be complete by mid-July.

However, residents would not be able to move in until August 1, once it had been signed off as being building code-compliant by the Waitaki District Council.

Mr Robinson said while the trust wanted to hold open days for the public to view the facility, that might not be possible due to the tight timeframe.

“There will be limited opportunities to get the public through … we will do what we can, but it’s going to be difficult.”

Spacious . . . An example of the larger of the two apartment options. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD