Stage one of the new retirement village to be built on the 12.5ha Mills Reef Winery site is scheduled to open this year, with sites hitting the market in March.

Earthworks for the construction of the first 17 villas in The Vines At Bethlehem will begin this month, and land owner and Preston Group director Tim Preston said he hoped to open the on-site sales office in March.

"We're at an exciting time of developing the floor plans that are looking really good, as well as looking at the main amenity block and how that will be developed.

"The initial clubhouse is being refurbished as we speak," he said.

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Mr Preston said he hoped the first show home would be opened in May.

Stage One of the project encompasses the village's first club house and 17 villas, which will be built on the property adjoining the Mills Reef site.

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Mr Preston said the plans had not yet been completed, but it was expected there would be about 15 variations for the standalone villas and the duplexes.

There had been a "huge amount" of interest shown for the village so far. Mr Preston said aside from signs at the site, there had been no other advertising.

"It's been really encouraging how much interest we've had. We are confident it will be a success."

Names were being taken from interested parties ready for when the sales office opened.
Other villages in the Bethlehem area had waiting lists and Mr Preston said The Vines was coming at the right time.

The budgeted timeframe for the entire project was 10 years but Mr Preston said, based on the interest so far, it was likely to sell out a lot quicker.
In all, the village will contain 198 villas and duplexes.