A Tauranga developer who grew up "in the poorest house on the poorest street" has sold a portfolio of his retirement villages for about $180 million.

Fraser Sanderson is selling Bethlehem Country Club and Bethlehem Shores in Tauranga and the Queenstown Country Club to retirement home operator Arvida Group.

Sanderson and his family held hands before he announced the sale to residents at Bethlehem Shores yesterday.

"The Bethlehem villages represent a pinnacle of my life's work," Sanderson said.

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"It is quite an emotional time for me. It was a hard decision for me to make. I have left a legacy

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