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Catholic church sells big retirement village to help fund new cathedral

This post was originally published on this site


Maryville Courts Retirement Village in Christchurch is changing hands, almost 40 years after it was built.

The Catholic diocese in Christchurch is selling a large retirement village to another church as it gets together the cash for its $100 million new cathedral and central city precinct.

Archer Group, a retirement village operator owned by a Baptist Church trust, is buying Maryville Courts in the central city for an undisclosed sum.

Maryville Courts has 65 villas, a community centre and gardens on a 1.9-hectare site on Salisbury and Manchester streets.

It was of the first retirement complexes of its type in New Zealand when it opened in the 1980s, and is run by a Catholic charitable trust.

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Spring is coming at Maryville Courts, a thriving, independent retirement village in central Christchurch.

The Catholic diocese recently paid for the last piece of a bare $50m riverside property occupying most of the block between Colombo, Armagh and Manchester streets.

It will use the land to build a new cathedral to replace the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament demolished in Barbadoes St after the earthquakes, plus a school and other facilities.

Property developer and investor Philip Carter owns a piece in the middle of the site and in an agreement with the church will build it a new office building and other facilities. Until the earthquakes the land housed Carter’s PricewaterhouseCoopers office tower.

The new cathedral is being designed now by Christchurch-based architects Warren and Mahoney Architects and American firm Franck & Lohsen Architects. It will hold 1000 people.

The church this year paid $18m to Singaporean company Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Ltd for its Colombo St land opposite Victoria Square where the former Copthorne hotel was demolished after the quakes.

The block also includes two sites the church bought for $14m and $7m from Carter, and an $11m site it bought from investor Ben Gough.

Alden Williams/Stuff

Property investor and developer Philip Carter, right, on the site of the new Catholic precinct in 2019 with the then Bishop of Christchurch Paul Martin.

Tony Sewell, head of property for the Catholic diocese, said they were “making progress” on the design of the cathedral and overall precinct.

“We are planning this year, and we will be going from that to consenting probably next year.”

In the meantime the diocese is using St Mary’s on Manchester St, next to Maryville Courts, as its pro-Cathedral until the replacement is built.

Andy Doherty, of the Catholic diocese, said the Maryville sale was part of “a broader strategy associated with funding the new cathedral and new parish centres”.


Maryville Courts Retirement Village.

The diocese is merging suburban parishes around Christchurch, and hopes to raise $26m from selling the surplus church sites. It may also sell the now-cleared Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament site.

“The Archer Group, with their continuum of care model which we cannot replicate, is an experienced operator that shares many of our values which we believe is very important for existing residents,” Doherty said.

The sale is due to be settled in October.

Maryville was repaired and upgraded after the earthquakes, in a process that included the diocese taking the Earthquake Commission to court over the insurance settlement.


The historic Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament being deconstructed. (First published October 2020)

The Archer Group already owns and runs several retirement complexes in suburban Christchurch: Archer Village and Thorrington Village in Beckenham, and Linrose Village in Linwood. It has residential care and dementia facilities, which Maryville does not have.

The Archer properties are owned by the Archer Memorial Baptist Home Trust.

In a statement, Archer Group general manager Graeme Mitchell said they were honoured to be buying Maryville, and he wanted to reassure Maryville Courts residents.

“Archer will strive to offer Maryville residents confidence for their future and provide these additional services for residents to enjoy as being part of the wider Archer family,” he said.