A four-level block rising alongside Auckland's Northern Motorway at Albany is the final stage of the $26 million Fairview retirement project which, a developer says, is the largest building job on the North Shore.

Fairview Lifestyle Management director Scott Vernon said the new Fairview Lifestyle Village was made up of a four-level hospital and amenities block, which was almost finished, and 140 villas due up by the end of this year.

Lifetime licences to occupy the villas had been sold for $260,000 to $400,000, Vernon said.

He admitted the choice of site had raised eyebrows.

People told Vernon and partner David McFarlane they were crazy to build on the Oteha Valley land so close to the motorway.

"When we first bought here, everyone said it would never work being next to the motorway, but that's been a huge asset," he said, citing the ease of access to the site.

Vernon said he and McFarlane would run the retirement complex, and McFarlane had expertise in the field through his ownership of a 60-room aged-care facility. He is a director of Henderson's Edmonton Meadows Rest Home business.

Vernon and McFarlane paid $4.3 million for three titles in Oteha Valley 4 1/2 years ago and amalgamated the titles to create one 8.4ha site.

The 2500sq m block alongside the motorway will have a 47-bed continuing-care facility, an indoor pool, a restaurant, three bars, an internet library, spa pool and steam room, gymnasium, changing rooms and indoor bowls area.

It also will have 62 one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments and an underground car park.

Although Fairview Construction was the main builder, on the site, Avoca Construction was working on the amenities block, Vernon said.

Building consents running at a peak level and a stretched construction labour force had meant the large job had not been all plain sailing.

"It's been very stressful. There's so much that can go wrong on a project of this size and David and I have been hands-on for four and a half years, seven days a week," Vernon said.

Vernon's attempt at a residential property development last month made headlines in the Herald when it reported a row over a grove of pohutukawa on Vernon's empty waterfront section in Minnehaha Ave at Takapuna.

Vernon cited reports by arborists which, he said, recommended that some trees be removed and others pruned and propped because they had rot and could fall over.

He bought the section for $1 million in March 1998 from real estate agent Geoff Castle, who had also wanted to build a house but pruning the grove caused a dispute in February 1997.

Police were called to the property amid arguments between contractors, tree defenders and North Shore City Council officers.

Castle's neighbour, builder Richard Kirkwood, obtained an Environment Court enforcement order to stop work.

Vernon said this week that he planned to challenge the North Shore City Council on the issue.

"There have been seven aborists' reports, including the council's own aborists, who have condemned the trees," he said.

"I don't want the trees to go," he said, adding that he had nothing against pohutukawa.

"We've planted about 75 pohutukawa trees at the [Fairview development] site and 10,000 native trees altogether."