Rest home for sale

By John Maslin

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A worldwide marketing campaign to sell Hikurangi rest home in Wanganui is to start today.

The rest home closed on June 25 but now the home's trustees have placed it on the market.

It is being offered for sale by tender, with a deadline of October 5. Trustees of the 39-bed Hikurangi Residential Home closed the facility because of financial difficulties, saying it was only managing to stay operating by using cash reserves.

Pam Erni, chairwoman of the board of trustees, told the Chronicle that profits from the sale would be distributed or dispersed to like-minded organisations as outlined in the deed of the trust.

Mrs Erni said that meant the money could be dispersed to rest homes in the Wanganui community that operated "with similar aims as us", or distributed elsewhere in the country.

She said the trustees hoped the money would stay in this community "and I would suspect they are leaning heavily toward a local organisation".

But Mrs Erni said the rules were clear that money could be dispersed only to a not-for-profit organisation. "That's how Hikurangi operated," she said.

While the property went on the market from today the trustees hoped it would create a good deal of interest "but, that said, it's still a very sad occasion".

Bob Davies, commercial sales specialist with Bayleys Real Estate in Wanganui, said the historic property, which had a government valuation of more than $2million, would be marketed internationally and throughout New Zealand. "The property is on the market from August 24 and will be for sale by tender. It's difficult to get an accurate price on this type of property so it's a matter of letting the market decide," Mr Davies said.

He said Hikurangi included the original two-storey homestead and other subsidiary units. "In all there are about 40 beds and most have ensuites, as well, a commercial kitchen, dining room and laundry.

"There's been no expense spared in maintaining the property either. It lends itself ideally to a boutique backpackers set-up."

While the property operated as a rest home it was zoned residential and there was potential to subdivide some of the land.

He said the marketing strategy would see it advertised offshore, as far afield as the UK.

"There's definitely interest in the market at the moment from investors and we're seeing a little more oomph in the commercial market, too," he said.

Mrs Erni said the chattels and property were being sold separately.

"The chattels have been offered to other rest homes and hospitals within the region and the remainder will be sold at an auction to be held in mid-September," she said.

She said Hikurangi had been a "home away from home" for the elderly of the Wanganui region for 60 years.

"The closure has impacted on the community in a number of ways by reducing the options available to the elderly, creating staff redundancies and affecting local suppliers of goods and services.

"This has been an extremely difficult time for all those that have been associated with the home and is the end of an era for aged care in Wanganui."

Mrs Erni said there was a considerable amount of early Wanganui history associated with Hikurangi and the trustees were hopeful that a prospective purchaser would have the vision to see the potential of the building and location.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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