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Retirement village operator Ryman eyes up Karori campus in Wellington

A major retirement village operator is eyeing a former teachers' college campus, while a community group is concerned that could turn the suburb into "God's waiting room".

The 3.7-hectare site, in the Wellington suburb of Karori, is owned by Victoria University, which was granted the campus by the Ministry of Education after teacher training was moved to a different venue.

Some estimates have put the value of the site at $20 million.

Spokesman for Ryman Healthcare, David King, said if the site came up for sale, the listed company would be very interested in buying it.

"Karori is a fantastic suburb and we think it would be a great place to build a new Ryman retirement village."

The company already has five villages in the region, and a site in Newtown.

Save the Karori Campus campaign spokesman Rob Gourdie said the group was still working on ways they might be able to keep some parts of the campus for community use, working with the council, or whoever ended up developing the land.

That might include creating a community hub on the site, with one of the anchors of the project being a primary healthcare hub.

Ryman Healthcare's Shona McFarlane Retirement Village in Lower Hutt.
Ryman Healthcare's Shona McFarlane Retirement Village in Lower Hutt.

Gourdie believed a large part of the community was not worried about what would go on the site, but about losing what was there now – the 300-seat auditorium, and recreation facilities.

"If you take that out of Karori, irregardless of what you replace it with, it's what you're losing.

"We're not against retirees as such, it's just we lose everything else, and become a 'dormitory suburb' and God's waiting room. That's the problem."

Topics: Values / Prices

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