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Prime Minister opens new multi-million community centre

The Russley becomes modern design icon, again - 50 years on

During one of his last public engagements as Prime Minister of New Zealand and Minister for Tourism, Hon. John Key officially opened a new $10m, architecturally designed community centre on the site of the former Russley Hotel – first opened just over 50 years ago in December 1964 by the then Minister for Tourism, Hon. EJ Eyre.

The ‘Homestead’, a multi-purpose building for residents of The Russley Village, was declared open on Friday (9th) with over 200 guests in attendance, including local MP and Minister for Transport, Gerry Brownlee – who once worked at the old hotel – Master of Ceremonies Peter Townsend, Peter Morrison who managed the hotel from 1986 to 1995, and village ambassador Judy Bailey who has been promoting the village since development first started in 2009. Well known local businessman and Terrace developer, Antony Gough, was also present.

The new Homestead complex, designed by Christchurch-based Dalman Architects and Auckland-based Lauren Hare Interiors, sets new standards for design and luxury retirement living – just as the Russley Hotel quickly became the benchmark for quality hospitality as well as modern design after winning an Institute of Architects national award.

Village director, Graham Wilkinson, says the brief for the build recognised the importance of the history of the site. “The Russley Hotel was of huge significance to Christchurch. We wanted to preserve this by creating a sophisticated country club experience that captures some of the old hotel’s warmth and ambience.”

Like the old hotel, the new Homestead has areas purpose-built for entertainment and socialising including a boutique cinema with tiered seats and a café and brasserie. Upstairs, there is an intimate lounge. There is also a library, study and computer area, an arts and crafts space as well as a hair salon and wellness rooms for health professionals.

There are a number of contemporary design features throughout, from the marble reception and weathered bronzed finishes to more traditional design elements such as exposed rafters and vaulted ceilings with skylights to diffuse light throughout.

Graham Wilkinson explains, “The Russley Hotel was well known for its friendly fireplaces. We’ve emulated this and have installed within the Homestead three stunning fireplaces featuring herringbone brick liners and raked limestone hearths.

“The Russley was also the first hotel in the South Island to have a swimming pool and became quite famous for its parties. Again, in keeping with the history of the site, we have started the construction of an indoor heated pool and spa complex.”

Also underway is the last of the apartments. When finished in 2017, these will bring units at the village to a total of 108. The last phase of the development of the site is a boutique age-care facility and serviced apartments that will provide residents with a full range of care and support services. Building will start early next year.

To view a video of the opening ceremony and the new facility click here.

 

The Russley Village is a partnership between Terrace developer, Antony Gough, who was the last owner of the hotel and Generus Living Group, a high-end retirement village operator which also runs Holly Lea Village in Fendalton. 

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