Cobram is set to see a new, 148-dwelling lifestyle development following approval for the project by Moira Shire Council last week.
Melbourne-based Akuna group managing director Graeme Jacobs said Akuna had a history of involvement in the management of senior housing and real estate development.
‘‘We looked at Cobram as the location for our first project because it’s a popular holiday destination,’’ Mr Jacobs said.
‘‘Our target market is fundamentally outside the local area, so we wanted a location that people were familiar with.
‘‘The RACV club is a very popular and iconic destination for people out of Melbourne, and the reason we chose Cobram is that it’s very close to the infrastructure, such as medical facilities and shopping, nature reserves and recreation reserves.’’
With an expected start date of four to six months, Mr Jacobs said local tradesmen would be employed in building the new project after a planning permit was issued last week.
‘‘We have a very positive relationship with Moira Shire,’’ Mr Jacobs said.
‘‘This is a $40million project and is expected to take three to four years to complete.
‘‘We expect an initial spike in sales of houses in the early stages, with 30 to 35 per cent to come from the catchment area including towns like Albury, Wodonga, Shepparton and Echuca, while we anticipate 65 to 70 per cent will come from the metropolitan area of Melbourne.
‘‘Median house prices in Melbourne are now around $900000 so people are downsizing and relocating by using the equity from their houses.
‘‘Fundamentally, we’re providing quality housing for people in retirement and at a time when they’re coming to retirement.
‘‘They’ve got their superannuation savings, they have worked all their lives and have housed and educated their children and now they are looking for a bit of space in retirement.’’
Mr Jacobs said the target market was people aged over 55 with a focus on retirees who have low superannuation balances and who qualify for government rental assistance on the land lease.
‘‘This target market is growing at 30 per cent per year, with a third of Australians estimated to be over 55 within a generation,’’ he said.
‘‘What is often forgotten is that many Australians are retiring with low superannuation balances, with the equity in their current home being their largest asset.
‘‘Under our proposal, Akuna will develop the land and then sell the homes with 49-year leases at an average price of $265000 per house.
‘‘Residents will pay, on average, a gross rent of $175 a week, and typically many will qualify for Federal Government Rental Assistance of up to $65 per week.’’
Mr Jacobs said the Akuna residential land lease community model was a more affordable and transparent option than the conventional retirement village model.
‘‘Under our model there are no exit fees, with any future house sale only subject to the normal residential sales commission fee of 2.5 per cent.
‘‘There are no refurbishment fees or other costs imposed on the residents with residents getting all the proceeds from the sale of their houses.
‘‘Residents only pay a weekly rental fee that covers all the maintenance of the community’s common areas and full use of the clubhouse, bowling green, swimming pool and gym, as well as council rates, sewerage and water rates.’’
●Akuna has plans for similar projects at Yarrawonga, Paynesville in the Gippsland Lakes region and other Victorian locations.