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Arbor House revamp nears end

A Wairarapa couple is breathing new life into an old Greytown Main St property that was a maternity hospital, aged care home, and a “social welfare home” for children.

Builder Tim Iro and his partner Rosie Mahoney of Alite Construction Ltd bought the Arbor House site in Greytown just over a year ago and hope their first joint project of seven rental apartments will be completed by mid-June.

Mahoney said the 2340-square-metre site next to the Greytown fire station and opposite the Top Pub had been “a bit neglected,” but she and Iro are “thrilled” with its transformation into a mix of modern two, three, and four-bedroom dwellings.

“We’ve had our challenges,” Mahoney said, “but nothing we couldn’t overcome, and nothing that has put us off.”

The couple’s decision to redevelop the site for rental properties was spurred on by the fact that “Greytown’s growing, and these days more and more people can’t afford to buy their own homes, and rentals are more and more in demand,” Mahoney said.

“We wanted to bring it up to a standard that we’d be happy to live here.”

The building’s age and its long and varied past created some “interesting” moments for the contractors on site, including finding some treasure in the walls.

So far, during the renovations, Iro has retrieved two empty packets of vintage cigarettes, a well-preserved box of Beehive Safety Matches, and a box of Colgate’s Ribbon Dental Cream.

The activity at the property has generated a lot of discussion within the community, with many people sharing their memories of its previous incarnations with the couple.

It’s a history with which Iro is very much connected: his mum was born there when it was Greytown Maternity Hospital, and “when it was a retirement home, my grandma passed away here”.

While former Kuranui student Iro has been in the building trade for years, this is Mahoney’s first development project, and she’s been “stoked” with how well they work together: “We’re still together. We made a baby!”

Their son, Raffe, was born just over four months ago.

With just a few weeks left to go on-site, Mahoney and Iro are grateful for the support they’ve had from the community and from their sub-contractors.

“They have made the project so much more enjoyable,” Mahoney said.

The couple plans to honour the site’s past and its connection with the wider community with a blessing and open day later in the year.

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