Waiting list for retirement units at Minda

5 May 2014 — The $200 million-plus Minda development at Brighton in Adelaide is taking a new approach to residential settings for the vulnerable, combining high-end retirement living with accommodation for people with intellectual disabilities. And it’s selling like hot-cakes, with retirement buyers seeing the shared site as an opportunity to make a positive contribution in investment and in voluntary work with Minda residents.

The masterplanning of the project has also embedded the principles of sustainability, including energy efficiency, vegetation protection and enhancement, and innovative water management.

The masterplan and individual designs were the work of Woodhead, which was recently placed into receivership and after acquired by GHD,  which worked closely with Minda project director Roddy Clark and the Minda executive on developing a model that embodied the principles of person-centred care while creating a mixed-use precinct that breaks down barriers with the rest of the community.

The incorporation of retirement living for the open market is part of this approach, and it also has the added benefit of giving the project a solid financial basis, with the sale of permits to occupy premium retirement apartments funding the construction of the special needs accommodation component.

In total, there are six stages to the development, which is due to be completed in 2022. By completion, the site will provide accommodation for 250 people with varying degrees of intellectual disability, in addition to employment-generating enterprises, recreational facilities, medical suites, a lifestyle precinct, child care, green space and beachfront retirement living apartments. In total, between 250 and 280 independent living retirement apartments will be constructed.

Stage one of the project is well underway, with 48 apartments for over-55s being constructed on the beachfront side of the site. Comprising two buildings with apartments over three storeys, the two- and three-bedroom apartments also share access to a number of common facilities in a series of linked pavilion-style buildings including a gym, library, catering kitchen and communal dining area, cafe and indoor pool, which are linked to the apartments by landscaped green and open spaces for recreation and leisure.

The apartments are not being sold freehold, instead a “licence to occupy” is purchased at prices comparable to a standard beachfront apartment, with a percentage of the fee returned to residents or their estate when they leave.

Minda will continue to manage the properties, including providing maintenance, landscaping and a range of added-value services including a concierge, on-call medical emergency assistance, optional car-sharing, RV and caravan storage and a laundry service.

Concurrent with the retirement living build, Minda’s construction contractor Badge Construction sis building 10 single-storey dwellings for individuals with an intellectual disability, comprising a mix of three-bedroom, four-bedroom and exceptional needs dwellings, which will be shared by people who have identified they would like to live together in a supported share house arrangement.

There is also an apartment building under construction which comprises 17 one- and two-bedroom apartments designed to suit people with mild intellectual disabilities, including younger people. In total, 61 Minda residents will be accommodated in the stage one buildings, following which the staged demolition of their previous accommodation will commence to make way for subsequent stages.

Minda’s wetland construction

Sustainability features

An exciting component of stage one is a wetland stormwater capture and purification scheme, which includes the construction of a sedimentation pond, which acts as a water feature in the landscaping, and gradually decants the water to a wetland basin where reed beds purify the water before it is either reused for irrigation or grey water. A further detention basin will also be constructed to manage stormwater generated in a major flood events.

Water sensitive urban design principles have been applied to the whole site’s landscape plan, with swales to direct and collect runoff for landscape irrigation, and precinct-wide reuse of grey water and harvested rainwater for amenities flushing.

All buildings have been designed to maximise the benefits of appropriate orientation for passive solar heating in winter and shading in summer, and to capture and utilise natural ventilation. Windows are large in all bedrooms and living spaces, to allow for abundant natural light and airflow.

Other energy efficiency measures include the use of LED lighting throughout, solar hot water, extensive insulation in walls and ceilings, and the capacity to retrofit photo voltaic power systems in future. A NatHERS rating of six stars or seven stars has been set as the performance benchmark.

“We did a lifecycle cost-benefit analysis for all the energy-efficiency measures,” Mr Clark said. “The aim is to keep recurrent costs down.”

The use of low-VOC products for paints, finishes and floor coverings has also been prioritised.

The Brighton site has 500 metres of beachfront, including a dune system which is being rehabilitated as part of the project. Exotic species have been removed, and replanting of endemic vegetation will take place. In addition, in conjunction with the State Government and the City of Holdfast Bay, a beachfront boardwalk trail featuring public art is planned. The board walk will provide further public access to the site in order to create opportunities for social inclusion and community integration with Minda’s residents.

“In all our landscaping, there has been a real focus on rehabilitating areas,” Mr Clark said.

What’s the level of interest?

Mr Clark said the level of buyer interest in the project was “very validating”.

“We launched the Brighton Dunes beachfront retirement apartments in April 2014 and had over 300 people turn up,” said Mr Clark.

“The majority of the apartment licences sold within three weeks, and we have a database of people who have lodged expressions of interest in the further stages as they become available.

“We did have some concerns about how the market would respond to the idea of a shared site with people with intellectual disabilities. However, we found there was a very positive response. There are several benefits people see in it, including their investment going to a good cause (supported accommodation), and the opportunities to be involved and to do voluntary work [with Minda residents].”

The project aims to break down barriers within the community, with the planned upgrade of the Minda day options activity centre during stage two including creating space for lifestyle courses such as arts and crafts, and pottery, which will be open to the broader general public.

Universal design

Another important aspect of everything being designed and built at the Brighton site is the application of universal design to all buildings and landscaping. Every single dwelling, including the retirement living, will be Disability Discrimination Act-compliant. Mr Clark said this ensures all accommodation can meet the needs of people well into the future.

Stage one is due to be complete at the end of 2014, with planning for stage two to commence at the start of 2015. The success of the stage one sales for the retirement living means stages three may commence concurrent with stage two.

Roddy Clark

“This project is part of our long term vision of having the recurrent income from the retirement living,” said Mr Clark.

“The planning of the project is founded in the new person-centred service model [of disability care], where we develop life plans to help people reach their goals. So it is all about person-centred design, and giving people [with intellectual disabilities] all the opportunities they need to engage.

“We generally deal with the category one people, those who are homeless, or extremely vulnerable, have high needs or complex issues. They may be people whose [family] carers can no longer care for them.”

A registered not-for-profit, Minda has been caring for South Australians with intellectual disabilities since 1898, and four of the original Heritage Minda buildings are being retained and refurbished as part of the current development.

In addition to the 250 individuals living onsite at Brighton, there are another 250 living in community homes across Adelaide, who receive a tailored level of support, and a range of support services provided for 1000 more people who are cared for by family members or are living independently.