New 40-bed hostel for Gisborne

'I would just like people to have a "can-do" attitude, not a "no-can-do" attitude.'

'I would just like people to have a "can-do" attitude, not a "no-can-do" attitude.'

OPENING SOON: Brian Johns in the lounge of the newly refurbished Albert Park, now a 40-bed hostel for long-term-stay adult students and workers. “Gisborne needs people with vision who can bring their money, take a risk and create something that will have benefit to the area," he said. Picture by Paul Rickard
Albert Park

ALBERT Lodge, now a 40-bed hostel for adult students and workers, and a new concept in accommodation for Gisborne, will open in the new year.

It has been guided through its development process by Brian Johns, the man behind the biggest modern urban retail development in Gisborne, who says he has faith in the future of the city and district.

The former IHC hostel and aged care facility in Albert Street, Te Hapara, has undergone a major refurbishment costing in the region of $750,000. Mr Johns says it should open in about a fortnight, and it is the first of its kind in the city.

“We don’t want to compete with existing motels and we are on a bigger scale than small homestays,” he said.

“We want to have a point of difference. We are looking for people who will stay for a medium or long term.”

The lodge is aimed at adult students, seasonal workers and tradespeople from companies that have major contracts in Gisborne.

It already has advance bookings from EIT students, some of them from as far away as Hamilton. It will be alcohol and drug-free.

Mr Johns has no financial interest in the lodge. He has acted as its project manager on behalf of Monash Holdings, which is owned by friend Owen Williams of Auckland.

The bedrooms have been completely stripped back, repainted and carpeted, and the facilities include a refurnished comfortable lounge.

A commercial kitchen and a dining room with new tables and chairs has been retained.

Grounds deteriorated

The grounds had deteriorated since the former rest home closed in 2014, but they have also been restored to make the hostel attractive again.

It has been a demanding project for Mr Johns, who has lived in the hostel since July and only rarely been able to get back to his home near Auckland.

Mr Johns first came to Gisborne in 2000 and the next year bought the former Heinz Wattie site for $3 million.

Once consents were obtained for each stage of the development, he sold the construction phase of the various components to developers and builders and to The Warehouse, which built its mega store and Warehouse Stationery store there.

The process involved a lot of negotiations with Gisborne District Council.

He remembers outspoken former councillor Hemi Hikawai saying ‘we have had you salespeople from Auckland down here before and it has never happened. Why should we trust you?”

“I said, ‘look Hemi, you will just have to trust me and let’s see how we get on’.”

Mr Johns later bought the Pacific Harbour and Senator motels and, after selling them, developed Repongaere Estate near Patutahi in which people were offered lifestyle blocks and shared ownership of a vineyard.

That was a concept before its time and came just as the world financial crisis began. He sold it to another developer.

Mr Johns sees potential in Gisborne but not necessarily on a huge scale. The reason the Heinz Wattie site was successful was that there had been no major development in Gisborne in the preceding 20 years, he said.

“Gisborne needs people with vision who can bring their money, take a risk and create something that will benefit the area.

“Eastland Community Trust has land available near the speedway. They need to be coming up with some design-and-build plans and marketing the opportunity for tradespeople to come down here.

“They would bring in different thinking and new skills. They would all need to employ people and I believe in a quiet well-planned manner, that sort of thing would be beneficial to Gisborne because it would bring in a lot of money.

“Gisborne is a lovely place to live and work.

“Its isolation is both a plus and a minus and I think it is more of a plus. I do see more of a future for Gisborne and I would just like people to have a ‘can-do’ attitude, not a ‘no-can-do’ attitude.”

ALBERT Lodge, now a 40-bed hostel for adult students and workers, and a new concept in accommodation for Gisborne, will open in the new year.

It has been guided through its development process by Brian Johns, the man behind the biggest modern urban retail development in Gisborne, who says he has faith in the future of the city and district.

The former IHC hostel and aged care facility in Albert Street, Te Hapara, has undergone a major refurbishment costing in the region of $750,000. Mr Johns says it should open in about a fortnight, and it is the first of its kind in the city.

“We don’t want to compete with existing motels and we are on a bigger scale than small homestays,” he said.

“We want to have a point of difference. We are looking for people who will stay for a medium or long term.”

The lodge is aimed at adult students, seasonal workers and tradespeople from companies that have major contracts in Gisborne.

It already has advance bookings from EIT students, some of them from as far away as Hamilton. It will be alcohol and drug-free.

Mr Johns has no financial interest in the lodge. He has acted as its project manager on behalf of Monash Holdings, which is owned by friend Owen Williams of Auckland.

The bedrooms have been completely stripped back, repainted and carpeted, and the facilities include a refurnished comfortable lounge.

A commercial kitchen and a dining room with new tables and chairs has been retained.

Grounds deteriorated

The grounds had deteriorated since the former rest home closed in 2014, but they have also been restored to make the hostel attractive again.

It has been a demanding project for Mr Johns, who has lived in the hostel since July and only rarely been able to get back to his home near Auckland.

Mr Johns first came to Gisborne in 2000 and the next year bought the former Heinz Wattie site for $3 million.

Once consents were obtained for each stage of the development, he sold the construction phase of the various components to developers and builders and to The Warehouse, which built its mega store and Warehouse Stationery store there.

The process involved a lot of negotiations with Gisborne District Council.

He remembers outspoken former councillor Hemi Hikawai saying ‘we have had you salespeople from Auckland down here before and it has never happened. Why should we trust you?”

“I said, ‘look Hemi, you will just have to trust me and let’s see how we get on’.”

Mr Johns later bought the Pacific Harbour and Senator motels and, after selling them, developed Repongaere Estate near Patutahi in which people were offered lifestyle blocks and shared ownership of a vineyard.

That was a concept before its time and came just as the world financial crisis began. He sold it to another developer.

Mr Johns sees potential in Gisborne but not necessarily on a huge scale. The reason the Heinz Wattie site was successful was that there had been no major development in Gisborne in the preceding 20 years, he said.

“Gisborne needs people with vision who can bring their money, take a risk and create something that will benefit the area.

“Eastland Community Trust has land available near the speedway. They need to be coming up with some design-and-build plans and marketing the opportunity for tradespeople to come down here.

“They would bring in different thinking and new skills. They would all need to employ people and I believe in a quiet well-planned manner, that sort of thing would be beneficial to Gisborne because it would bring in a lot of money.

“Gisborne is a lovely place to live and work.

“Its isolation is both a plus and a minus and I think it is more of a plus. I do see more of a future for Gisborne and I would just like people to have a ‘can-do’ attitude, not a ‘no-can-do’ attitude.”

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