As our population ages, retirement living is changing. The North Shore has seen a whole range of villages open in recent years, providing a variety of options for those at retirement age. One could say we’re spoilt for choice. One iconic North Shore village is Northbridge – located on a 16 hectare site opposite AUT on Akoranga Drive. This village has been around since 1976 (45 years) and as a not-for-profit charitable trust offers a real point of difference for residents. Channel Mag’s Aidan Bennett went along to talk to Northbridge Lifecare Trust director James Jordan during April, to learn more about the popular village.
First of all I need to declare my bias. I love retirement villages. My mum lives in one and I am sold on the lifestyles they offer for those in their senior years. My first visit to Northbridge did nothing to change my mind. In fact with the point of difference the facility offers, it only made me a bigger fan.
Firstly, a big difference with Northbridge is that it is a not-for-profit charitable trust. It is owned and managed by the Northbridge Lifecare Trust. Its aim is to provide a vigorous and supportive community for people over the age of 60. The Trust was founded in December 1972 when the trust deed was incorporated under the Charitable Trust Act 1957. A group of forward-thinking Aucklanders identified very early that there was a need to provide secure accommodation for retired people and care for them for life. In July 1973 the board confirmed the purchase of the current site on Akoranga Drive for $130,000. In November 1974 work commenced on building the first four apartment blocks comprising 32 dwellings. Interestingly back then apartments were priced between $31,500 to $58,500. The village was fully completed in stages over a decade, by 1983. A decade later further apartment buildings were completed. The trustees operate under a clear set of founding principles and guidelines (these are included on this page).
Fast forward to 2021 and Northbridge has 205 Apartments, 19 Serviced Apartments, a 45 Room Rest Home, a 16 Room Memory Care Centre and a 35 Bed Continuing Care Hospital. Making it one of New Zealand’s most equipped retirement villages. There are 270 people who call Northbridge home, residing in the independent and assisted living apartments.
“A big plus for the Northbridge community is that the money stays with the trust for the benefit of the trust,” explains Trust director James Jordan. “This means we can really deliver on key principles such as affordable living and caring for people for life.
“While we are building 48 new apartments, the fact that we are a very well established village also means we can keep things more affordable than others. If we were in the position of having to purchase land and build a totally new facility then we wouldn’t be able to offer such affordable options. We are fortunate that the founders were forward thinking and our job now is to enhance what we’ve already got. Ensuring it is changing, modern and always fit for purpose.”
Northbridge Lifecare Trust is well into a capital project redeveloping sections of the Village. The new state-of-the-art buildings collect rain water for use in the village's grey water system and there is an extensive solar panel network contributing power to the building. Stage one was completed in 2018. This was 31 new two-bedroom apartments and additional facilities including an indoor heated pool, spa pool, gymnasium, movie theatre and snooker room. Stage two was completed in 2019 and involved the reconstruction of two apartment buildings adjacent to Akoranga Drive – three levels of two bedroom apartments with basement car parking and a recreation room. Stage three involves the reconstruction of two further apartment blocks adjacent to Akoranga Drive and Warehouse Way. These are due to be completed early next year and will be a mixture of two and three bedroom apartments with basement car parking. A new Day Pavilion is also being constructed near this building. When this capital project is complete Northbridge will have added 108 brand new apartments a gain of more than 70 apartments.
The village will have grown by 40% over the years. With the completion of the most recent apartment development (there are only four left to sell) that will be it for expansion. Any further capital expenditure will be focused on improving what is already within the footprint. The rebuild of the care facility being planned is an example of the trusts ongoing commitment to its founding principles.
Northbridge Village Apartments are modern one, two and three bedroom apartments which are for independent residents who are able to look after themselves. These apartments are fully refurbished and modernised internally on resale – including double glazing, under tile heating, new fittings throughout with kitchens and bathrooms usually being totally replaced. One bedroom apartments are priced from $380,000, two bedroom from $525,000 and three bedroom from $975,000. Revenue for the Trust (to maintain and improve the Village) comes from the 30% Lifecare Contribution and any capital gain obtained on resale of an apartment. This Lifecare Contribution is included in the indicative starting figures mentioned above.
“We typically resell 15 to 25 Apartments each year and there are also a very small number of brand new apartments available that are due for completion in the next 12 months,” adds director James Jordan. “Our Village Apartments are very popular but we do have natural change each year which means around 10% do become available.
Northbridge offers an extensive range of recreational facilities and activities. These provide an important social hub that are there to be used by residents, providing a wide choice of organised and casual activities.
In terms of facilities there is The Café which is open from 8.30am to 3pm, then from 5.45pm for dinner seven days a week, There is also a lounge, private function rooms, a library, a snooker room, a movie theatre, a flight simulator, a bowling and croquet green with its own recreation pavilion. There is a Petanque Court adjacent to the Bowling Green, a Swimming Pool with Spa and also Barbecue area. There is also a Gymnasium with a personal trainer to design programs. Northbridge also has the very important Hairdressing Salon, there are Allotment Gardens, a Workshop, an Art Room, and an Activity Room.
Regular activities at Northbridge include a games night, housie, table tennis, painting, card making, yoga, tai chi, line dancing, singing, cards, including bridge, 500 and poker.
So much to offer at Northbridge I almost signed up myself! One real positive not to overlook is the location. Northbridge is so central with easy access to the city and all parts of the North Shore.
I would encourage those interest to learn more to view the Northbridge website, it is as good as they come with videos of the apartments and full details of their package. Or you can simply email or ring James Jordan and his team.
Northbridge Retirement Village, 45 Akoranga Drive, Northcote.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Telephone 09-488-3080.
Founding Principles and Guidelines
The trustees of Northbridge Lifecare Trust operate under the following principles and guidelines: